A spectator in the crowd joked that Jayla Jones-Pack might have better post moves than her uncle.
“She might,” responded her uncle, Shelton Jones, an Amityville High School graduate who played at St. John’s University and in the NBA in the late 1980s.
Jones-Pack wasted no time Tuesday night showing off those post moves and the basketball genes that run in her family. She scored 17 of her season-high 30 points in the first quarter to propel St. Anthony’s to a 69-41 win over host St. Mary’s in CHSAA girls basketball.
“We started off flat and it’s my responsibility to get the team going,” Jones-Pack said. “My coach told me we had to get it going, so that’s exactly what I did. Got it going.”
The 6-4 forward, who will play Division I basketball at the University of Central Florida, was dominant in the paint on both ends of the court, grabbing 14 rebounds and blocking four shots. She made use of her height advantage by posting up on the low blocks and calling for the ball. Even facing double teams, she spun her way into position with footwork that would make her uncle proud. She also couldn’t be kept off the offensive glass, converting many putbacks.
“She was being very aggressive,” St. Anthony’s coach Ken Parham said. “It can make the game easier. We are fortunate to have someone that we can throw the ball into that is pretty reliable.”
Allyson Murphy added eight points and five assists. Sarah Edmond had 14 points and seven rebounds and played strong ball denial defense on Kadaja Bailey, a talented sophomore who is bound for St. John’s University.
“They had me on her and the plan was basically don’t let her get the ball,” Edmond said. “We played good defense as a team.”
Bailey finished with 14 points, including a leaner off the glass that pulled St. Mary’s (3-2) within 48-35 late in the third. Lily Rakitzis added nine points.
The Friars (4-0) opened the fourth on a 10-2 run, highlighted by Jones-Pack’s three-point play in the paint. That was part of the reason why her inside game was being compared to that of her uncle, who participated in the 1989 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
“Maybe my post moves are a little quicker, but I don’t know about better,” Jones-Pack said with a laugh. “My whole family, we are basketball orientated. Everyone played, he just went the furthest. It feels good to have basketball in my blood.”