Aberdeen center Brionna Jones, last season’s All-Metro Player of the Year, will miss the rest of her senior basketball season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee.
Jones said Wednesday that the diagnosis, which has been suspected since she hurt the knee in a game Jan. 3, was confirmed by MRI results. She plans to have surgery Jan. 25.
The most dominating post presence in Baltimore-area girls basketball, the 6-foot-3 Jones signed with Maryland in November. She led the Eagles to their first state championship and The Baltimore Sun’s No. 1 ranking last March. She finishes her high school career with 1,812 points and more than 1,000 rebounds.
In the game against North Harford, Jones said she didn’t hear the characteristic pop associated with an ACL tear, but her knee just gave way.
“I was going up for a layup and I made a sudden stop and it kind of collapsed,” she said. “I’m just trying to stay positive. I don’t want to get down. Just learn from it.”
Since the injury, Jones has been in the gym with her teammates, who have won both games since she was injured. The No. 2 Eagles are 9-2. She plans to keep going to games and encouraging the young Eagles, including her sister Stephanie Jones, a freshman.
“It’s been a tough adjustment,” Eagles coach Amber Milnes said, “just because everybody in the county was waiting for her to get 2,000 points and it was supposed to be her big year. I think everybody’s a little stunned by the news.”
The soft-spoken senior did most of her talking on the court, leading the Eagles in all of their big games. With her soft hands and great positioning, she averaged 23.5 points, 11.6 rebounds and 4.2 blocks as s junior. She scored a career-high 40 points in the regional championship. In the state final, she had 25 points and 13 rebounds in a 63-48 win over River Hill as the Eagles finished 27-1.
The Eagles will now rely on two freshmen on the inside -- 6-1 forward Stephanie Jones and 6-2 center Endia Jones, who is not related to Brionna and Stephanie but has stepped into Brionna’s position.
“The team’s been doing their best to work really hard,” Milnes said, “and adjust how we do things. This changed the dynamic of the team. The two times they’ve been on the floor since Bri’s been injured, I feel we’re putting the pieces together and I think we’re still going to be a pretty competitive team.
“She was a focal point, but this has now opened up some opportunities for other people to step up and fill roles. Howver, it is putting a whole lot of pressure on our freshmen to perform, because after Bri, our tallest two players are both freshmen, so now we’re asking our freshmen to fill some really big shoes.”
Milnes said she was pleased with how her young players pulled out a 60-57 win over No. 12 Patterson Mill after losing a big lead in the game after Brionna Jones was injured. The young Eagles -- who have experience in the backcourt espeically in junior Jimmia McCluskey and sophomore Kierra Palmer, both veterans of last year’s title team – face a couple of big challenges when they head to The Basketball Academy next week at Morgan State to take on No. 5 Digital Harbor on Jan. 24 and No. 4 Poly on Jan. 26.
Brionna Jones is the third All-Metro girls basketball player to go down with an ACL tear in the last six months. New Town’s Jannah Tucker, a versatile 6-foot guard headed to Tennessee, tore one while playing with the U.S. Under-18 national team at the FIBA Americas U18 Championships Puerto Rico in August. Glenelg’s Emily Russo, a shooting guard headed to UMBC, tore hers in December. Both are rehabbing after surgery.