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Brianna Jones scores 36 points to lead North Babylon

North Babylon guard Brianna Jones puts the shot

North Babylon guard Brianna Jones puts the shot over two Smithtown West defenders in a game on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. Photo Credit: George A. Faella

Against a triangle-and-two defense, Brianna Jones played all the angles perfectly.

The 5-9 Louisville-bound senior guard scored 36 points and grabbed 21 rebounds Thursday to lead North Babylon to a 55-45 victory over Smithtown West in Suffolk III girls basketball.

"It's definitely a challenge,'' Jones said of the geometry-lesson defenses she regularly faces. "I know I'll be triple-teamed, triangle-and-two, box-and-one. But I worked hard last summer on my conditioning, so I'm ready for anything.''

The wrinkle was that Smithtown West (1-1) didn't play a traditional triangle-and-two, which employs three players in a zone and two playing man-to-man. The Bulls used two players on Jones, even when she didn't have the ball.

It didn't work in the first quarter, when Jones scored 14 points as North Babylon (2-0) grabbed a 16-9 lead. But the Bulls harassed Jones into five second-quarter turnovers and held her to one basket as they cut the deficit to 25-22 at halftime.

After Smithtown West tied it at 25 on Sarah Harrington's banked three-pointer early in the third quarter, Jones torched the triangle. She scored eight points during a game-breaking 12-0 run, showing off all the dimensions of her game.

Jones hit consecutive pull-up jumpers from the left wing and two bank shots inside after snaring offensive rebounds. A left-corner three-pointer from a tough angle made it a 15-point third quarter for Jones and a 46-32 lead.

Jones, who also had five assists and four steals and shot 17-for-27, got help from 6-2 center Maya Joyner, who contributed nine points and 12 rebounds. Selena LaFranco scored 15 points for Smithtown West and Harrington had 11.

Even though it appeared that Jones favored the left side for most of her outside shots Thursday, she said, "Every game is a different spot. I realize that I play better when I just relax, have fun and don't force it.''

Jones is the only returning starter for North Babylon, which lost in the county final last season. Although she believes her young team will be a playoff force again, she also is focused on being ready for the next level.

"It's the ACC and Louisville. I'll have to play my best every night,'' she said.

Her coach, Debbie Brajevich, expects nothing less.

"She's got to do it all. She understands the situation. She knows she can't foul out,'' Brajevich said. "Everything she does will prepare her for Louisville. She'll get used to the pressure.''

Jones' best weapon against the myriad gadget defenses is her pull-up jumper, especially effective because she is so dangerous going to the hoop.

"I love the pull-up. I love to shoot it smooth,'' she said. "That's my bread-and-butter move.''

For defenders, it means they're toast.

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