Playoff awakening has Jones, Naz at top of their game

Maybe Tiffany Jones was conserving her energy during the regular season. Maybe she just wasn’t motivated enough watching Nazareth easily handle most teams it came across in the year’s first 3-1/2 months. Whatever it was, it had coach Apache Paschall saying that as much has he loved his star forward she was “asleep” most of season.

“She was sleeping, then one game she will wake up, [then] back to sleep,” senior Taylor Ford joked. “I thought she was unconscious just after awhile. Then finally this whole tournament she woke up and she has been awake for awhile.”

Jones, who is headed to Syracuse next season, played her way through an up-and-down regular season, but turned it up on both ends of the floor in last weekend’s CHSAA Class AA girls basketball state tournament. Her strong play helped lift the Lady Kingsmen to the school’s first-ever crown and a trip to the state Federation tournament in Albany.

“It’s been really trying with Tiffany Jones this year, just trying to get her to dominate the way I know she can,” Paschall said. “I guess she said to me, ‘Apache, I’m going to relax and when the playoffs start I am going to be ready.’ That’s what she did so far. I hope she keeps it up.”

In a quarterfinal win over Mary Louis, Jones scored all 10 of her points in the fourth quarter and grabbed 15 rebounds.

With the Lady Kingsmen’s season in jeopardy she made big play after big play down the stretch in the semifinals against St. Anthony’s. Jones connected on two huge 3-pointers for six of her eight points in the final stanza and had the defensive play of the game, knocking away a lob pass at halfcourt to Darius Faulk. The senior point guard would be fouled and made the winning free throws in the closing seconds for Naz.

She was instrumental in Nazareth’s championship game victory against rival Christ the King. She crashed the boards, scored in the paint and changed shots with her leaping ability and long arms. Ford said that winning motivated and meant everything to Jones, who took home a Federation title with St. Michael Academy two years ago. She plans on continuing this awakening and not stopping until she has another one.

“Going up state, I’m going to play my ‘A’ game, just like the rest of the seniors,” Jones said. “Therefore we are going out with a win.”

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