Tiffany Jones didn’t have your typical pregame warm up for a 6-foot-3 forward. The Syracuse-bound senior didn’t take a free throw or a layup, just shots from 3-point range. Her final shot was a halfcourt heave that fell well short.
“She was bugging,” forward Taylor Ford said. … “She was just shooting 3s, so I guess she is going to have a good game.”
A great game was more like it.
The Syracuse-bound Jones poured in 22 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked five shots to lead the Lady Kingsmen to a 60-54 win against Murry Bergtraum in the New York State Federation Class AA girls basketball championship game Sunday at the Times Union Center in Albany. She opened the game with a 3-pointer on her way to 10 first-quarter points and game MVP honors.
“Game over,” Jones said of what she was thinking after the first trey.
She spoke all season of winning a Federation title as a senior after being a part of St. Michael Academy’s title team in 2009. Jones played her best basketball in the postseason after admittedly not playing up to her potential most of the year. The title is Nazareth’s first-ever girls basketball crown, something that wouldn’t have been accomplished without Jones.
“Tiffany is a special kid,” Nazareth coach Apache Paschall said. “Tiffany is one of the best kids in the country. When she concentrates and really plays, that’s the level that she plays at. There is no doubt in my mind she should be a McDonalds All-American.”
Jones played like one, shooting 6-of-10 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. She had 13 of the first 17 points over the first and scored quarters for the Lady Kingsmen (29-3), ranked No. 7 in the county by USA Today. Jones controlled the paint, picked up the scrappy rebounds and changes Lady Blazers shots. Bergtraum coach Ed Grezinsky lauded her free throw shooting after the game.
“I wanted to be remembered as a champ and I woke up during the playoffs,” Jones said. “
In a CHSAA state quarterfinal win over Mary Louis, she scored all 10 of her points in the fourth quarter and grabbed 15 rebounds. Jones collected the biggest steal of the year to set up Darius Faulk for the game-winning free throws in an improbable semifinal victory against St. Anthony’s. But she saved her career best and most important performance for the biggest stage.
“Today she was like a whole new person,” Ford said. “It was like watching Kobe play. She was phenomenal. … It was like seeing the real Tiff play. Nobody has really seen her full potential. This is her full potential.”