Ferriday’s Jones, Abron take top awards
Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 30, 2003
FERRIDAY, La. &045; Here it is a month removed from the only night of disappointment for the Ferriday Lady Trojans from the past season, and Monique Jones is still disgusted.
The loss to Christian Life in the Class 2A quarterfinals ended what was a superb season for Jones and the Lady Trojans, although it didn’t end near the way they wanted.
But now she and the team reflect on a season of going 32-1 and spending most of the season ranked third in the state.
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Jones served as a leader on the squad and is this year’s winner of the All-Metro Player of the Year by The Natchez Democrat. Ferriday head coach Lisa Abron is this year’s Coach of the Year.
Both won the respective awards a season ago.
&uot;I thought I was dreaming because we were geared to win that game,&uot; said Jones, who will sign with Baylor next month. &uot;I couldn’t believe it, to tell you the truth. When I got home until I heard Christian Life won the state championship, I couldn’t believe we lost. When I say I couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe it. My mind was set on winning a state championship, but it didn’t happen.&uot;
The loss was hard to take, but the season was an outstanding one for Jones and the Lady Trojans, despite falling 57-44 to CLA. And individually, Jones improved her game significantly following her junior year when the Lady Trojans made it to the Sweet 16.
Jones finished the season averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and five assists per game. She was named District 3-2A MVP and is a strong candidate for Class 2A Player of the Year.
The season culminated a standout career for Jones, who earned first team All-Metro honors as a freshman.
&uot;The first time I saw her she was in the fourth or fifth grade,&uot; said Abron, who finished her fifth season at FHS. &uot;You could tell she would be a special player. The thing I saw her do more this year was she wanted to get her teammates involved. She had a lot to do with the other girls stepping their game up. We saw it happen lots of times this year and last year.&uot;
Jones took the theme to heart this season and helped the players around her &045; most noticeably seniors LaShawnda Pryor, Rashonda Leonard and Latasha Cain &045; improve their game.
Opposing teams knew Jones could score from various spots on the court, but several weren’t expecting her to pass and play defense as well as she did this season.
&uot;I stepped up a lot,&uot; Jones said. &uot;Scoring is not everything. You have to play defense and do everything in order to be a complete basketball player. I had a team full of talent, and I had to remember that. The whole team improved. I had to adjust.&uot;
On several occasions Jones had no choice. It was common for other teams to put their best defender on her, set up in a zone to collapse on her underneath, run a box-and-one set with a man on her or just go with a double-team in the half-court set.
&uot;We went 30-0 during the regular season, and she had a lot to do with that,&uot; Abron said. &uot;She kept that fire in everybody and kept her eyes on the prize. Unfortunately, we didn’t get there, but we lost one game. How many teams can say that? We opened up a lot of eyes in this area. People we didn’t know were calling us and wishing us luck. That made them feel real good.&uot;
What happened was Jones’ style of basketball meshed with Abron’s philosophy of team basketball centered around defense, and Jones took to it wholeheartedly in her senior season.
Abron helped guide Jones through the college recruiting process after she had a similar experience during her prep career at Vidalia.
&uot;She kept my head on right, encouraging me and teaching me what I need to work on more,&uot; Jones said. &uot;When I kind of got tired, she pushed me. Coach (Yvonne) Chatman pushed me until I couldn’t go any more. I had upped my defense a lot this year. That’s Trojan basketball &045; defense.&uot;
If there’s one memory that will dominate Jones’ mind of practices in high school, it’s the four-corners slide. Abron instructs her players to slide defensively along the inbounds lines of the court in an effort to sharpen their defensive skills.
The emphasis worked a great deal this year. The Lady Trojans didn’t have the big post inside like several other teams did, but they made up for it with defensive pressure by the guards &045; attacking the opposition’s guards before they could get it into the post.
&uot;Anybody can put the ball in the basket,&uot; said Abron, who credited much of that theme to her predecessor, Joan McFarland. &uot;You’ve got to play defense. That’s how you stop people scoring on you. From Day 1 that’s what I tried to emphasize in our practices &045; to stop people from scoring. That’s how you win games. We didn’t have much height, but I think defense did it for us.&uot;
Jones and the other four seniors leave knowing how to play defense extremely well, and it’s that core that leaves a gaping hole in the Lady Trojans’ plans for next year. Pryor is attracting attention to play at the next level, and the two will be the first of Abron’s players to go on to college ball.
&uot;I’ll be sad when they leave, but at the same time I’ll be happy,&uot; Abron said. &uot;I want to see them get out of here and do something for themselves. It (loss to CLA) was a hard pill to swallow, but that’s life. You have your ups and downs, and you have to learn and move on. You can’t win them all.&uot;