With 1:12 remaining in Saturday’s 84-59, first-round playoff victory over College of the Canyons, Saddleback women’s basketball coach Fentriss Winn went to his bench and shook five of his players hands.
The game was that much in hand.
Twenty seconds later, the Cougars committed their 19th turnover of the game. Both teams finished with 20, but the Gauchos had something their opponent didn’t.
The sophomore center scored 28 points and had 18 rebounds to go with three blocks for host Saddleback, who plays Ventura this Saturday in the second round for the right to play in the state tournament in Stockton next weekend.
“(We were just) coming in and dominating inside the post,” said Jones, who was 12 of 15 from the field. “Thats what me and Joy Mason wanted to do.”
Mason had 13 points and six rebounds, while teammate Marissa Douglass had 14 points shooting 4-for-5 from behind the arc.
“I felt if we could score in side, we could dominate and win the game,” Jones said. “If we needed to kick it out to the shooters, we knew they would make it.”
The Gauchos (24-7) shot 48 percent from the field for the game and 53 percent in the first half to take a 19-point advantage into the locker room for the break.
Ventura, winners of 19 of its last 20 games, has not played the Gauchos this season. The Pirates dispatched Irvine Valley, 86-37, last Friday to improve to 4-1 this season against Orange Empire Conference opponents.
Ventura is led by sophomores Jenelle Conklin and Indira Kaljo, who combined for 42 points in an 86-37 victory over visiting Irvine Valley last Friday.
“Going into Ventura will be a tough task,” Jones said. “We need to go in there and focus like we did tonight.”
Jones was recently selected to the all-OEC first-team for the second straight year, also was elected to this year’s all-state third-team for the first time in her career.
Jones, who will continue her basketball career at Texas A&M, Commerce, established school records for blocked shots in a season with 114 and field goal percentage at 55.3 percent for her career.
Sophomore teammate Cassie Klockgether, who had an off-night against the Cougars on Friday by shooting just 4 of 13 from the field with nine points, joined Jones as an all-state third-team selection after averaging 20.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists during conference play this season.
Klockgether also entered the team record books this season for most free throws made in a game with 16.
The Gauchos could need the best performances from both players against Ventura, which they face at 7 p.m.
TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH JONES’ NIGHT