Wayne County was awarded the honor of hosting the Region 3-5A basketball tournament this week, featuring both the boys and girls teams from Laurel, South Jones, West Jones, and Wayne County. The tournament began Tuesday evening with four games to determine who would compete for the boys’ and girls’ district titles on Friday. All four schools fought valiantly, and as a result, each will be represented in Friday’s matchups.
West Jones vs Wayne County (Girls)
The first game of the evening pitted the Lady Mustangs against the Lady War Eagles. Jurnee McLaurin helped the Mustangs build a significant early lead by knocking down three shots from behind the arc and scoring 11 points in the first quarter. Coach Gina Skelton’s team battled back into contention with an offensive surge in the second half, coming within three points of tying the game. But solid defending in the final moments allowed the Mustangs to hold onto the lead and advance to the district finals with a 42-36 victory.
Laurel vs West Jones (Boys)
The defending 5A state champions from Laurel kicked off the boys’ competition with a game against West Jones. Despite a sluggish first quarter with only 10 points scored, they made the proper adjustments and pulled away for a convincing win. Thirteen players registered points for the Tornadoes, led by Antwan Hatten who finished the game with eight points. Laurel’s 77-40 victory secured their spot in the district final and sent the message that they should likely be the favorites to take home the gold.
Laurel vs South Jones (Girls)
The second girls’ game of the evening seemed as if it would end in a lopsided win for the Lady Braves, who led the Lady Tornadoes 57-34 going into the last quarter of play. In an fierce offensive showing, the Lady Tornadoes racked up 30 points of offense in the final quarter, even drawing as close as six points from the lead within the final two minutes. Unfortunately for them, the surge proved to be too little too late. South Jones came away with a 74-64 win, and they will square off with West Jones on Friday evening for the women’s Region 3-5A title.
South Jones vs Wayne County (Boys)
The War Eagles men’s team got the privilege of being featured in the finale of Tuesday’s lineup against the Braves, and they certainly came prepared to put on a show. Wayne County was red hot from behind the arc, including back-to-back 3-pointers from Terrance Jones at the end of the first half to give the War Eagles a 30-15 advantage heading into the locker room. Nothing changed in the second half, as the home team continued to hit timely 3-pointers to stifle any comeback attempts by the Braves. Emmanuel Seldon led all scorers with 12 points on the night, and the War Eagles advanced to another district title appearance with a 69-54 win. They will face Laurel for the boys’ district title on Friday, in a matchup that has become quite the rival over recent years of dueling for both district and state championships.