By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Jade Jones took a risk when she played on an injured knee in Pond Creek-Hunter’s girls area losers bracket final against Velma-Alma Saturday.
But what’s a little pain when you’re pursuing a dream (playing in the state tournament) that you have chased all of your life?
She scored 15 points in a 55-51 Pond Creek-Hunter victory and will be in the lineup when the Lady Panthers face Cheyenne-Reydon at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in a first-round Class A state tournament game at Oklahoma City University.
“It was worth it,’’ she said. “I’ve been dreaming of this day ever since I was a little kid. I would never miss playing in it. It’s amazing. It’s a lot better than watching.’’
Jones and her father, Panthers boys coach Darin Jones, had gone to see an orthopedic doctor in Oklahoma City after the game.
The doctor diagnosed the injury as a possible meniscus tear, but not an ACL tear. She was advised she could play, depending how much pain she could take.
“They would have to cut her head off for her not to play,’’ Darin Jones said.
“I knew I couldn’t hurt it any worse,’’ Jones said. “There was no way I was going to sit out.’’
Jones felt more pain Saturday than she did the night before. She re-injured the knee, only to come back after her dad helped her to re-brace the knee.
“Coach (Tasha) Diesselhorst pushed me,’’ Jones said. “She told me we need you out there, suck it up. I knew I was going to go out and play. There wasn’t any doubt in her mind that I was going to play because she knew how much I wanted to win.’’
Jones actually checked in at the scorers table after her dad finished working with the knee before going back to Diesselhorst.
“I just went in,’’ she said. “I just tried to walk it off. There was a lot of adrenaline flowing. I just forgot about the pain. It was pretty much the same after the game was over. It was worth it.’’
Jones was nervous as she said she is before every game. She didn’t play with the fear of injuring it any worse after learning it wasn’t an ACL tear.
“It was more mind over matter,’’ she said. “I wasn’t scared. I didn’t hold anything back. I went as hard as I could go.’’
When she hurt it originally, she was in a little shock.
“When I hurt it, I was thinking ‘why would this happen.’ I didn’t know what was wrong with it,’’ she said. “I was really upset Friday night. It hurt a lot and I was pretty emotional. Saturday was a whole new day. I felt a lot better. You know there’s a reason behind it.’’
Jones had motivations such as remembering the bad feelings she and her teammates had the year before when they lost twice in the area tournament after being undefeated.
“We all remembered how we felt in the locker room,’’ Jones said. “I knew if we didn’t win, we would have to wait another year.
“We had been waiting for this all year. I knew the seniors weren’t going to let me down. They stepped up huge. We wouldn’t have won the game without them.’’
Senior Carson Ferguson had 19 points. Junior Rylie Halcomb had 11. Freshman Tiarra Davis had a steal late in the game. Senior KaLanne McKee was solid on the boards.
These are the girls Jones has played with since she moved to Pond Creek from Buffalo in the first grade.
“I love Pond Creek,’’ Jones said. “We have played with each other our whole lives. It makes it a lot easier knowing how each other plays.’’
Jones’ life has been influenced greatly by her dad and Diesselhorst.
Darin Jones took his daughter to the state tournament every year and remains her No. 1 fan. He was the first to come to her side when she was injured.
“He’s the reason I’m as good as I am right now,’’ Jones said. “He’s always been there for me. When I was crying, he was there. He helped me out a lot.’’
The elder Jones’ input was always positive.
“I didn’t feel a lot of pressure being his daughter,’’ Jones said. “My dad is my No. 1 fan. I just went out there and played and did whatever I had to do.’’
She and Diesselhorst have a special bond. The coach is the daughter of highly successful Burlington boys coach Randy Turney. Diesselhorst was coached by her dad at Medford.
“Coach Diesselhorst and I are very close,’’ Jones said. “She’s not only made me a better player, but she’s made me a better person, too. I don’t know what I would have done without her.’’
Diesselhorst was someone she could talk to.
“She knows where I’ve been,’’ Jones said. “We both love the game of basketball. She was a good player and played in college. She understands me. If I need to go to her with anything, I know she will give me a good answer.’’
Jones has been a scoring machine for the 25-4 Lady Panthers. She had 45 points in a 69-48 win over Garber in the Skeltur Conference finals. She’s topped 30 points five other times, including a 31-point effort against Oaks Mission in the regional semifinals.
“I knew I had to step up and score a lot of points and be a leader,’’ Jones said. “We have had a great season. I’m sure a lot of people didn’t think we would be as good this season. Right now, we’re better than we were last year.’’
Jones is taking it easy in practice. She is going to physical therapy. She was planning to just shoot in practice Tuesday.
Cheyenne-Reydon, the Area I champion, beat No. 1-ranked Okarche 41-40 in the area finals. They are coached by former Dover and Hennessey mentor Brad Thrash.
“Cheyenne is a very good team,’’ she said. “We’re going to have to execute well, but if we go out there and play like we know how to play, we have a good shot at it.’’
If the Lady Panthers win, they will go to the State Fair Arena Friday where they would play the Fort Cobb-Broxton/Kiowa winner at 9 p.m.
“I’ve wanted to play there all of my life,’’ Jones said. “I hope everything works out. OCU is a nice gym. I went to a camp there once. I’m happy to play there.’’
She’s just anxious for the game.
“I always get nervous before a game,’’ Jones said. “Once the game starts, I’ll be going 90 miles per hour.’’