If Jeniyah Jones’ 12 points, seven rebounds and seven steals had been her final stats, Braintree coach Kristen McDonnell would certainly have been satisfied.
Instead, the junior forward erupted for those numbers in the first half alone, finishing with 15 points, 10 steals, eight rebounds and five assists to help the Wamps cruise to a 68-40 victory over the Mansfield Hornets in a Division 1 South semifinal on Thursday night at Taunton High.
“She finds a way to fill the stat sheet,” McDonnell said. “If it’s not points one day it’s steals one day and assists another day and I think that’s what’s so big for us. She’s going to give you something every single game.”
After both sides twice traded buckets, the Wamps (20-3) closed the first quarter with a blistering defense and extended a 16-4 run into the first two minutes of the second quarter. Jones made five of her steals in the run as Braintree forced 11 turnovers in the first 10 minutes of play to take an early 20-8 lead. The 5-5 Jones came off the bench for Braintree, helping the Wamps to a 21-point halftime advantage.
“It makes me play a lot harder,” Jones said, referring to her role off the bench. “I see everyone busting their butt and I just want to do the same for my team.”
Braintree turned it over 10 times in the first half due to Mansfield’s pestering defense, but four free throws at the end of the second quarter by junior Adriana Timberlake, a 3-pointer by senior Mackenzie Moore, and six more points from Jones helped the Wamps to run away early.
Mansfield received a commendable effort from center Meg Hill, who collected 19 points, six rebounds and five blocks.
Jones got plenty of help from senior captain Jenna Roche (11 points, four rebounds and two steals) and Timberlake (14 points) in advancing to the Division 1 South final against first-seeded Newton South (22-1) at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday night at Taunton High.
It will be Braintree’s seventh consecutive South sectional final appearance.
“Veronica Burton actually is the best player in the state that I’ve seen and she just consistently gets it done every possession,” McDonnell said about Newton South’s leading scorer. “I think they have great supplemental players, especially this year, that can hit threes. They just jack threes all game.
“It’s going to take us having our absolute best defensive game and only keeping them to one shot.”
Division 1 North
Belmont 58, Woburn 47 — Senior captain Carly Christofori was an assist away from a triple-double, with a game-high 18 points (including 12 in the fourth quarter), 11 rebounds and nine assists as the Marauders (19-3) fought past Woburn (19-3). “You can always be comfortable with her ball-handling in so many situations,” said Belmont coach Melissa Hart. “She’s really grown over the years as a point guard and has a great ability to control tempo.”
Belmont will play in the sectional finals Saturday against either Central Catholic (20-2) or Lowell (18-6).
Division 2 South
Foxborough 63, Silver Lake 37 — The top-seeded Warriors (22-1) received valuable contributions from their seniors, as well as the first-year players in rolling to the semifinal victory at Bridgewater-Raynham.
Senior captain Grace Tamulionis and freshman guard Kaitlyn Mollica, making her first career start, netted 16 points apiece as Foxborough advanced to the sectional final for the third time in four seasons where the Warriors will face third-seeded Nauset (19-2), a 50-41 winner over No. 15 Pembroke Saturday at 5:30 in Taunton.
“They did what they needed to do and took care of business,” Foxborough coach Lisa Downs said, adding “to be able to contribute as [Mollica] did was great for us.”
Nauset 50, Pembroke 41 — Sophomore Skyeler Sandison paced the No. 3 Warriors (19-2) with 16 points, and junior Reagan Meehan (14 points) finished 12-of-14 from the stripe in the semifinal victory at Whitman-Hanson. Junior captain Jayne Howe poured in 17 points for the 15th-seeded Titans (11-12) in a losing effort.
“Anything can happen this late in the game,” Nauset coach Heath Teixeira said. “It’s just who wants it more and who executes, and today we executed when we needed to.”
Division 2 North
Pentucket 59, Melrose 45 — Sophomore Angelina Yacubacci scored seven of her nine points off the bench in the third quarter to help the second-seeded Sachems (21-2) take command of a 36-32 fourth-quarter lead in their sectional semifinal victory over third-seeded Melrose (20-3) at St. John’s Prep.
“The thing I like the most is I think they took it to us in the third quarter, [and] we could have got rattled, but I think we played our best basketball after that,” said Pentucket head coach John McNamara.
Wakefield 54, Wilmington 38 — Senior guard Hannah Dziadyk recorded 22 points, six rebounds, and three steals as the fourth-seeded Warriors (18-5) toppled the No. 8 Wildcats (15-8) at Woburn High. Wakefield advances to Saturday’s final at the Tsongas Center against Pentucket (22-2). Senior forward Allee Purcell (9 points) hauled in 19 boards, senior guard Allison Coggswell picked up 10 points, all in the second half, for the Warriors. Senior forward Caroline Anderson had 6 points and 11 rebounds for Wilmington.
Division 3 North
Bishop Fenwick 57, Stoneham 19 — Junior guard Olivia DiPietro scored 10 points as the Crusaders (14-9) soared past Stoneham (7-16) at Wakefield High. “We play at a very high pace, and I think it frustrates a lot of teams,” Fenwick coach Adam DeBaggis said. “We had good on-ball defense and help D.”
Fenwick advances to face Bedford (14-9) in the final Saturday at the Tsongas Center in Lowell.
Division 4 South
Coyle & Cassidy 70, West Bridgewater 22 — Fourth-seeded Coyle & Cassidy jumped out to a 16-0 lead and never looked back against top-seeded West Bridgewater, blitzing the previously undefeated Wildcats (22-1) in the D4 South semifinal at Bridgewater-Raynham High.Kassidy Fields had 24 points, while Rachael Johnson and Kaylee Haynes had 12 apiece to power the Warriors (20-3), who move on to face defending state champion Cathedral in the sectional final on Saturday at Taunton High.
Cathedral 85, Falmouth Academy 58 — The two-time defending state champion Panthers (17-5) withstood a staggering 45-point performance from Northeastern-bound senior guard Kendall Currence in the semifinal victory at Whitman-Hanson.
Sophomore Mackenzie Daleba (18 points, 8 rebounds) led Cathedral.
“I like to watch good basketball,” said Cathedral coach Clinton Lassister. “I was on the other side of the tape, so I didn’t want it to go too good, but [Currence] is an excellent player. She’s going to do well at Northeastern.”Nate Weitzer reported from Burlington, Karl Capen from Woburn High and St. John’s Prep, Trevor Hass from Whitman-Hanson, Owen Pence from Pope John, Matt Doherty from Wakefield, and Liam O’Donnell from Bridgewater-Raynham.