The north end of the gymnasium of Jones High School serves as a reminder of the rich athletic heritage of this small town in Eastern Oklahoma County. A de facto “Wall of Fame” displays a banner for every Jones Athletic squad that has ever made the State Tournament. The top row of banners celebrates the Longhorn squads that have won state championships: the 1984 Boys Track Team, the 2009 Boys Cross County Team, the 2016 Football Team and the 2018 Baseball Team. The wall boasts 30 banners in all.
A closer look will tell a somewhat different story. The banners on the northeast side of the gym display the boys teams while the banners on the northwest side of the gym display the girls teams. The Boys side has 27 banners. The Girls side has 3. This fact is not lost on Girls Head Basketball Coach Jenni Holbrook.
When Coach Holbrook was hired, the current Longhorn Seniors were merely Freshmen. Holbrook has led the Longhorns to the Playoffs during her first 3 seasons at Jones. Yet the team failed to get past the Area Tournament. Coach Holbrook encouraged the team with a simple three word phrase: “Make the Wall”
Make the Wall
Making the wall means so much more than momentary success for a team. It represents the achievement of a goal that has lasted an entire career for these seniors. Making the wall will give the northwest side of the gym another banner to add to those recognizing the Cheerleading Squad. Making the wall is tangible evidence of the effort exerted by the team. Making the wall will help future athletes to aim high for their achievements.
The record books will show that on March 6, 2020 the #2 Jones Longhorns were victorious over the #14 Kingston Redskins in the Class 3A Area III Finals 51-39. But that game means so much more to Jones. “No Girls Jones Basketball team has ever been to the State Tournament, No Girls Jones team has ever won an Area Championship. These are firsts for our program…for us. This was not just about winning that game. For us this was to make history, to get on that wall” Coach Holbrook said after the victory.
The excitement around this Longhorn squad is hard to deny. They have a #2 ranking in the State, a 26-1 record, and a 21-game winning streak on their résumé. A town-wide Pep Rally is being held on Thursday and all classes on Thursday have been canceled in Jones Public Schools. Businesses have window decorations cheering on the girls, and the Town of Jones set out the green and white flags down Main Street. “We have had a fantastic student section and fantastic support from the community. We hope that continues for the State Tournament,” the coach said on Sunday during team practices.
We have had a fantastic student section and fantastic support from the community. We hope that continues for the State Tournament.
The Longhorns have moved through the playoffs with relative ease, winning the four games by an average score of 63-29. However, the road will only get more difficult from here. Every potential opponent in the State Tournament is ranked in the Top 10 in the State, including the #9 Eufaula Ironheads that Jones will face at 2:00 pm at the State Fairgrounds. Eufaula is an athletic team with a 25-4 record. The Ironheads made it to the State Tournament by beating #6 Roland in the Area Tournament on Saturday.
When tip-off comes Thursday afternoon, the Longhorns will enter the contest knowing they have made the wall. That spot was secured last Friday evening. While one goal has been accomplished, this team is certainly not done.
There is still room on the wall.