Dover — With 15 minutes remaining in Tuesday’s match-up with Class 3A No. 6 Benton Central, Western Boone found itself down 25 points, and heading toward a third-straight defeat.
Madison Jones had other ideas. The Western Boone senior scored a school record 50 points, 35 coming in the second half, and the Stars came all the way back for a thrilling 69-67 win.
“We were talking in the locker room and were just saying we had to play as a team,” Jones said of the difference in the second half. “I was mad at myself, because I wasn’t playing well in the first half. I just felt like I needed to pick it up. My team needed me, we stuck through it and we got it done.”
But then the Stars defense, and Jones got them back into the game.
Benton Central scored just two points in the next nine minutes, as Western Boone went on a 23-2 run to get within 51-47 with 6:28 to go.
“We started scheming a little differently on defense,” Western Boone head coach Megan Alexander said. “We stuck with our press, but then we tried to change things up every possession down the floor. Our girls were rotating and executing our press perfectly. Everything clicked with the girls, and obviously Madison got really hot and our team really rallied around each other. They were really happy for her and it just lifted everybody up.”
Jones score 18 of the 23 points in the run, then continued to score at will.
Down 56-51, Jones hit a 3-pointer with 4:11 left, then hit two free throws with 3:54 to go to tie the game at 56.
After a free throw by Benton Central’s Audrey Strawsma, Jones hit another 3-pointer with 3:15 to play to give Western Boone the lead.
“I know have the ability to get on a roll like that, and not a lot of players can,” Jones said. “I am striving to get better. College is going to be hard next year, I understand that, and I am working to get better. It was just amazing, and my teammates were energetic, I was energetic, and I knew we could win this game.”
Jones was extremely efficient from the field, taking just 24 shots to get her 50 points.
She also tied her school record with seven made 3-pointers, on 11 attempts. She was 16-of-24 from the field, 11-of-14 from the free-throw line and added four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Alexander said the game showed how much Jones has improved during the last four years.
“Younger Madison would have succumbed to the pressure in the first half,” Alexander said. “They were really all over her and she was a little frustrated. In her maturity now, and her leadership, she put it all behind her and obviously in the second half turned everything around for herself and the team.”
Benton Central scored to get within 62-61 with 2:38 to go, but after a Jones’ basket and a turnover, Emily Voils scored to put the Stars up five with 1:23 to play.
The lead was four with 28.4 to go when Tori Wilkinson split a pair of free throws to make the lead 68-63.
The Bison made one last push, getting within 68-67 in the final seconds, but Jones was able to hit 1 of 2 free throws for her 50th point and Emma Fisher missed a shot at the buzzer for the tie.
Jones now stands at 1,954 points, which is the 50th most in state history.
“That was an amazing performance,” Benton Central head coach David Baxter said. “We were double teaming her, trapping her and trying to get it out of our hands and it just didn’t work. She was phenomenal.”
The win improved the Stars to 13-9 on the season.
They end the regular season at 6 p.m. Friday at home against North Montgomery.
“It is really phenomenal for us and our confidence,” Alexander said. “It was a bit of a rough scout because it was so quick, but we knew they were going to pressure us and we had to handle it. We did it decently well, especially in the second half. That is huge for Kara (Brewer), Hillary (Reed), Lauryn (Florey) and their confidence moving forward into the sectional.”
Jones said the win was exactly what the Stars needed the week before the sectional.
“Benton Central is a great team, and that’s what it is going to be like in the sectional,” Jones said. “Sectionals is a really tough tournament and we haven’t won it in four years. Those are the type of teams we will face in the sectional, and a game like this is going to prepare us for that.”