Photo by Earl Austin Jr. | St. Louis American
Springfield, MO – The Vashon High girls basketball team made history by winning their first ever state championship on Friday afternoon.
The Wolverines staged a big fourth-quarter rally, then outlasted St. Joe Benton 79-77 in an epic double-overtime contest to win the MSHSAA Class 4 state title at the Great Southern Bank Arena on the campus of Missouri State University.
Vashon’s prospects of winning its first state title and joining their boys team, which had won a state title earlier, looked bleak midway through the fourth quarter when they trailed Benton 55-44. But the Wolverines stormed back with a 15-4 run down the stretch to tie the game and send it into overtime tied at 59-59. Vashon’s full-court pressure netted 15 steals and forced 24 Benton turnovers, which led to several transition baskets during its big rally.
The two teams battled on even terms for the first overtime, which ended in a 65-65 tie. Junior guard JaNyla Bush opened the second overtime with a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Wolverines a 68-65 lead and they would never trail again.
The two teams battled on even terms for the first overtime, which ended in a 65-65 tie. Junior guard JaNyla Bush opened the second overtime with a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Wolverines a 68-65 lead and they would never trail again. They made several clutch free throws down the stretch to clinch their first state title and place in school history. The Wolverines join Cleveland, Gateway Tech and Metro as Public High League schools to win state championships.
“It was one hell of a game,” said Vashon head coach John Albert. “Shout out to Benton. To be honest, they gave everything they had. We were just a team that wouldn’t die. We just got down 10 or 11 (points) in the fourth and they just figured out a way to win. It had nothing to do with me, to be honest. I kind of got out of the way and told them just to play.”
Senior forward Raychel Jones was tremendous throughout the game for the Wolverines. Playing in her last game at Vashon, the four-year starter had 24 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. She made 10 of her 15 field goal attempts and it was her driving layup in the closing seconds of regulation that sent the game into the first overtime. Jones is a UMKC recruit.
The Wolverines had three other players score in double figures as Bush had 24 points, five rebounds and six steals. A Missouri State commit, she was playing on her future home court in Springfield. Junior Chantrel “Tutu” Clayton had 18 points while senior Bri Collins added 10 points.