By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Shayne Linzy had seen enough.
Oxford’s coach grew tired of watching Wayne County’s talented trio of guards – especially Jaleshia Jones – driving through his team’s 1-2-2 zone defense in the first half, so he made a switch to a box-and-one in the second half.
The change worked wonders.
Linzy’s unbeaten Lady Chargers ended the Lady War Eagles’ assault on the basket, which ultimately led to a 60-42 Oxford victory on Tuesday in the semifinals of the MHSAA Class 5A State Tournament at the Mississippi Coliseum.
The Chargers (32-0) will play South Jones, a 50-46 winner over Center Hill, at 1 p.m. Saturday in the state championship game.
“(Jones) was getting some easy stuff,” Linzy said. “That’s where the box-and-one came in. We were not cutting the lanes off with our post people.”
Jones, along with teammates Takera Mitchell and Ravean Matthews, scored all but two of Wayne County’s first-half points. Oxford led 30-23 at the break.
Oxford’s defensive effort, led by Kristen Dickerson and Kayla Wells, held the War Eagles to seven third-quarter points. In the process, the Lady Chargers expanded their lead to 49-30 behind the scoring of Erika Sisk and Dickerson.
“That was the difference for Oxford,” said Wayne County coach Gina Skelton of the Chargers’ box-and-one. “That was a good adjustment for them. (Jones) is one of our better players.
“I thought we just missed way too many shots in the third quarter.”
Sisk, who signed with Murray State, scored 25 points and had six steals to lead the Lady Chargers. Dickerson added 11 points.
Matthews scored 12, Mitchell 11 and Jones 10 for Wayne County (20-13).
‘Tough team to beat’
“This feels awesome,” Sisk said postgame. “We’ve worked hard every single day for this. This was one of our goals.
“I think we can beat any team. I don’t mean to sound over-confident. I just know if we play hard, we can be a tough team to beat. That’s our mindset.”
Oxford’s also tough to beat when it hits free throws. The Lady Chargers connected on 18 of 22 from the foul line.
“That might be the best we’ve had all season,” Linzy said. “We haven’t sniffed 80 percent from the free throw line.
“These players did what it took to win the game.”
Wayne County’s Skelton said she likes Oxford’s chances of winning a gold ball. “They’re a well-rounded team,” she said. “They’ve got it all.”