Briana Benson scored 19 points and fellow senior Victoria Florence added 15, including three 3-pointers, as the Lady Cardinals defeated Woodland 64-56 last Saturday.
“We gelled together as a team and we realized what we had to do,” said Benson who also had nine rebounds and four steals.
“We just decided to win this game for him,” Florence said. “You’ve got to step up, stay humble and don’t get caught up in everything that is going on. Just stay calm, keep playing your game and everything will take care of itself.”
Senior Kimberly Dawkins had 10 points and 13 rebounds and sophomore Michaelle Smith finished with nine and 15 boards — nine offensive — for Jonesboro, which earned its 21st consecutive win.
However, early on due to some questionable foul calls and four technical fouls against the Lady Cardinals, the Lady Wolfpack appeared set to hoist the trophy.
After Florence and Mecca Sneed were given technicals for being too physical, Jonesboro picked up another technical for Kenisha Reeves jersey change from No. 3 to 20.
Then another tough call went against the Lady Cardinals, leading to Lamar Harris being whistled for two technical fouls and an ejection with 2:48 left in the first quarter.
Now it was up to assistant coaches Jordan Greenleaf, Crystal Benson and Atari Parker to keep the Lady Cardinals focused.
But first they had to watch Woodland’s Lindsey Reed make seven of eight foul shots for a 12-7 advantage. However, Jonesboro would trail by just two at the end of the frame.
Then in the second quarter, the Lady Cardinals would reclaim the lead for good, thanks to nine points in the frame by Benson.
Jonesboro would lead by just a point at the break before creating some separation in the third quarter due to the 1-3-1 zone defense.
Then with the Lady Cardinals already ahead by six points early in the fourth, Florence nailed back-to-back 3-pointers just 30 seconds apart to extend the margin to 52-40 with 6:25 left.
Jonesboro remained comfortably in front the rest of the way to snap Woodland’s 23-game winning streak and avenge a 57-50 loss Dec. 4.
“We’re not just settling for the region championship,” Benson said. “We’re trying to win the state.”
The Lady Cardinals will host Cairo on Wednesday in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs.