When Jenni Holbrook interviewed for the girls basketball coaching job at Jones High School five years ago, she received a tour of the facilities. Covering the walls of the gym were banners and accolades for the boy’s teams that had won championships in the past.
Holbrook asked the athletic director where they kept the girl’s banners.
‘We don’t have any’, she recalled him saying. In fact, the small town of 3,000 people had never had a girls team qualify for the state tournament in any sport.
From that day forward, Holbrook made it her mission to bring a girl’s state championship to Jones. She accomplished that feat recently when the Lady Longhorns tore through the Class 3A bracket en route to the first state championship in school history.
The Lady Longhorns finished the season 18-1 and won their three state tournament games by an average of 25 points, including a 63-28 rout of top-ranked Roland in the title game.
It was sweet redemption for Jones, who was a heavy favorite to win state last year before the tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19. They were scheduled to play the first game of the tournament at The Big House in Oklahoma City, but when they arrived, they found a sign posted at the entrance saying the tournament had been delayed.
“That was heartbreaking,” recalled Holbrook. “It took a while for us to mourn. We never had closure. We didn’t have a banquet. We never got to celebrate the girls.”
“Going into the state tournament we had only played 12 games,” said Holbrook. “We were just starting to hit our stride when the playoffs started.”
“There was a lot of pressure on this team to get it done because of last year’s team and what they didn’t get to do,” added Holbrook. “They were playing for last year’s seniors. It was a really emotional year. I’m so proud of the girls for getting it done and playing for other things besides themselves.”
Jones was led by seniors Tirzah and Trinity Moore. The athletic, 6-1 twin sisters were too much for most 3A teams to handle. The dynamic duo have committed to play for Oral Roberts University next season.
“There aren’t many teams out there that are going to go against those kind of players on a day-to-day basis, especially in 3A,” claimed Holbrook of the Moore twins. “They can both dunk a basketball. They can slap the backboard. They can do all those things.”
The Lady Longhorns also featured dynamic sophomore point guard Boston Berry. Berry has already received offers from the University of Tulsa and Texas Tech.
“She’s really fun to watch,” claimed Holbrook. “She has crazy handles, can make amazing passes, and she’s extremely strong. She picked up her scoring this year, too. She stepped up big time for us this year.”
For now, the Jones community is relishing in its first girls state title ever.
“They’ve been amazing,” said Holbrook. “When we were allowed to have fans in the playoffs and state tournament, I was just thrilled. We had the best student section there. We had so many fans show up. They were ecstatic to watch the girls play.”
“When I first started here, we talked about ‘making the wall’, getting a banner on the wall,” said Holbrook. “They’ve seen their brothers win the football state championship (2016) and the baseball state championship (2017).”
“It was about changing the mindset, that girls could win here too.,” added Holbrook. “I told them that one day, one group is going to be the first. The girls really took it as a challenge.”