Jones a game-changer for Lady Pack

Published 11:41 am Friday, December 2, 2016

Washington had to fight hard to win a scrappy game against Northern Nash on Thursday. The Lady Pack jumped for every loose ball and grinded through pressure on about every inch of the court in the 41-35 win that completed the season sweep of the Lady Knights.

Daria Jones was right where she’s been through all of Washington’s early-season success: front and center. She continued to be an incredible post presence on both ends of the court, even when she drew two and three defenders.

“She’s very impressive when she has it in her mind she wants to play,” Lady Pack coach Ralph Biggs said. “When she decides, ‘Nobody is going to stop me,’ there’s nothing she can’t do. Also, as a team, we’ve got to help her. We’ve got to put her in good situations. When you put her in a good situation, she’s unstoppable.”

Jones found herself in some good situations. A lot of the time, it was because she put herself there. She made offensive and defensive plays that shifted momentum time and again.

Northern Nash had a 10-7 lead with a few minutes left in the first half. Jones got a layup and a free throw in quick succession to tie the game at 10 apiece. She was the lone player back on a Lady Knight 2-on-1 fastbreak in the final moments of the second quarter. She was able to not only breakup the play, but also helped turn it into a transition bucket for Traziya Windley, which put Washington ahead, 12-11, going into halftime.

“She’s smart and she’s physical. On the backend of our press, she reads what’s going on,” Biggs said. “If they try and throw a long, risky pass, she’s going to get it. She’s quick for her size, and people underestimate her.”

Coming out of the intermission, Jones started and finished a 10-2 run that gave the Lady Pack a 22-13 lead in the third period. It was once she came out of the game that Northern Nash went on a 12-1 flurry to take a 27-23 lead.

Jones checked back in in the middle of that run. She was able to haul in an offensive rebound — one of many — and put it back up, cutting the deficit to two going into the final eight minutes.

With about five minutes left, Washington took a 32-31 lead thanks to a baseline jumper by Jones. She only had three points in the fourth, but contributed in other ways as the Lady Pack pulled away. The attention she commands from opposing defenses opens up the floor for her teammates.

“It’s an unselfish way of her helping the team,” Biggs said. “She creates triple teams on herself, which means, if she’s got three on her, other girls are open. We’ve just got to find the right girl to take the shot. Nazayah Parker, in the first half, realized they were doubling Daria. She attacked the basket and got us in the flow.”

Jones added, “It’s a lot of work, but my team helps me get through it. That’s what helps us win.”

This strong start to the season has been in the works for months. Jones grew and learned a lot playing AAU basketball with the Washington Lady Sparks, who are coached by Adam Williams.

“A lot of girls (in AAU) really can play,” she said. “I fought through it, trying to get better against them.”

Jones has high aspirations for Washington and herself. After she’s done doing all she can to lift the Lady Pack to new heights, she wants to play in college, and eventually, in the WNBA.