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Brianna Jones leads North Babylon to convincing win in Class AA semifinal

North Babylon guard Brianna Jones drives the ball

North Babylon guard Brianna Jones drives the ball against Brentwood in a Class AA semifinal playoff basketball game on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Brianna Jones provides service with a smile.

Her services are well known. There's her ability to rise above a defender and release a lethal pull-up jumper. Or the ease in which she creates off the dribble and attacks the rim. Or simply finding a way to deliver the ball through traffic to an open teammate.

Less known are the pranks she pulls to ensure that her teammates constantly flash those pearly whites. She'll pour ice down her teammates' backs when they're sleeping. Or she'll crack a joke to ease the tension on the court. Or she'll hide the snacks on the bus, as she did on the way to Friday's game.

"I always say that we have to smile," she said. "It's good for the soul."

It was all smiles Friday after Jones helped lift the top-seeded North Babylon girls basketball team to a 65-38 win over No. 5 Brentwood in a Suffolk Class AA semifinal at Smithtown East High School.

Jones scored 13 of her 17 points in the first half as the Bulldogs opened a 27-point lead. She also had 12 rebounds and five assists, including a dish to Katie Zambrotta, who drained a three to give the Bulldogs a 25-9 lead with 3:25 remaining in the second quarter.

Jones' straightaway three with 10 seconds left in the half sent North Babylon into the break with a 36-12 advantage.

Makeda Nicholas scored 16 points and dominated the glass with 22 rebounds and Lauren Williams had 13 points and six assists to help North Babylon cruise to victory after surprisingly tight games in the opening rounds.

"Today we came out with more fire," Nicholas said. "If you give a team hope, they take advantage of it. I'm glad that we started right, hard from the start and got the win."

Alexia Douglas led Brentwood (17-4) with 16 points and seven rebounds and Natasha Almonacy added eight points. Destiny Brown converted a scoop plus the foul shot with 5:08 remaining in the third to pull Brentwood within 36-18, but that's as close as the team came.

"This game they showed more poise and control," North Babylon coach Debbie Brajevich said. "They stuck with the things that make them the team that they are."

North Babylon (20-1) plays No. 3 Sachem East in the county final Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Farmingdale State College.

"Look at us," Jones said, pointing to her teammates, "we're all smiling."


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