By Jeff Seidel
For The Baltimore Sun
10:27 PM EST, December 14, 2012
Aberdeen was clinging to a two-point lead in the final minute of Friday night's game against McDonogh when Brionna Jones made a simple hustle play that changed everything.
Jones sneaked around a few players to grab an offensive rebound from a missed free throw and her follow-up shot gave the Eagles a four-point lead with 36 seconds left. The Maryland-bound senior center finished with a game-high 30 points as No. 1 Aberdeen edged No. 2 McDonogh, 57-51, in the first Public School-Private School Challenge at John Carroll.
Jones completed her double-double with 11 rebounds, but her final was the biggest. Kierra Palmer missed the front end of a one-and-one with 39.3 seconds left, and Jones curled around a few McDonogh players to get the ball and score for a 55-51 lead.
"I was [thinking] nobody's going for it, I'm going to go get it," Jones said. "The ball was just right there."
That was one of the few easy buckets the 6-foot-3 Jones had in the game. McDonogh (3-3) wanted to make her earn any points she scored — and such was the case.
McDonogh double- and triple-teamed Jones, making it tough for Aberdeen (2-0) to find her down low. Wherever Jones went, at least one McDonogh player always followed.
McDonogh coach Brad Rees said he wanted to hold Jones to around 25 points, so he was pleased with his team's effort.
"I felt we did a really good job on her," Rees said. "She's just tough. You can't stop her."
The whole Aberdeen team needed to work hard to pull this one out. Aberdeen raced to an early 14-4 lead, but McDonogh scored 11 straight points in a span of 80 seconds for a 19-18 lead after the first quarter.
The game remained close the rest of the way, with Aberdeen often finding itself in an unusual position — trailing.
Danielle Edwards (14 points) and Dajah Logan (13 points) led McDonogh, which remained in front for most of the middle two quarters before Aberdeen's defense began to turn things around. Aberdeen switched to a 1-3-1 zone midway through the third quarter, often trapping on the wings, and McDonogh had problems with it.
McDonogh scored only four baskets in the final 14 minutes after Edwards hit a 3-pointer for a 37-30 lead with 6:11 left in the third quarter. Aberdeen made sure to get a hand in the shooters' faces on most possessions, and that bothered McDonogh.
Stephanie Jones, Brionna's younger sister, finished with six points and made a number of key plays on defense. The freshman forward bothered shooters, forced turnovers and helped disrupt McDonogh's offense.
"In the beginning, they got a lot of open looks," she said. "We did a better job in the second half."
Endia Jones (eight points), Jimmia McCluskey (seven) and Donisha Porter (six) also pitched in at both ends. And, of course, Brionna Jones made the big play late that wrapped it all up.
"That's what she does," Aberdeen coach Amber Milnes said of the reigning All-Metro Player of the Year. "You can only control her for so long."
No. 1 Aberdeen 57, No. 2 McDonogh 51
A —E. Jones 8, McCluskey 7, S. Jones 6, B. Jones 30, Porter 6. Totals: 23 9-14 57.
M — Robinson 1, Edwards 14, Robb 8, Jacobs 9, Wynn 2, Logan 13, Johnson 4. Totals:18 8-10.
Half: M, 30-28.
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