ORINDA, CA – The way Archbishop Mitty-San Jose superstar and Stanford-bound Haley Jones glides along the court and seemingly can score at will against almost every opponent, even top-ranked teams like Salesian, it sometimes looks like she could score 40 or more points at will.
On Saturday night at the Elite Is Earned New Year Classic the 6-1 senior, that can play all five positions, did just that and finished with her usual double-double after registering 24 points (two three-pointers) and 15 rebounds with four assists and four steals in leading Cal-Hi Sports No. 4 and Prep2Prep Central Coast Section top-ranked Mitty (13-2) to a convincing 66-55 victory over state No. 8 and P2P North Coast Section No. 2 Salesian-Richmond in the marquee game of the eight-game showcase event at Miramonte.
The reality is the success of Mitty is they play as a team, and although Jones is the big star she knows getting others involved is the key to success at the highest level of competition.
“I like to be a facilitator just as much as I like to score,” said Jones, who was content with not doing a lot of scoring in the first half.
It came as no surprise that Jones started the game leading a sagging defense against 6-5 Salesian post and USC-bound Angel Jackson and Hawaii-bound Makayla Edwards and let her teammates score, as she only tallied seven of her points in a first half that saw the Monarchs still take a 40-16 lead after two quarters.
Jackson was below her averages but still managed a double-double 10 points and 11 rebounds with two blocks. Edwards, who is still wearing a mask to protect a broken nose suffered earlier in the season, only tallied five points with three steals.
“The main focus was to sag on Angel and Makayla on defense,” Mitty Coach Sue Phillips remarked.
While Jones was leading the sag the other Mitty players helped her put the game in the bag early, even though Phillips kept her in longer than usual since she “wanted to get Haley time with the subs.”
“I really like playing against Angel (Jackson) and look forward to going up against her in college in the Pac-12,” Jones said. “We played together on the Cal Stars and we’ve become best friends.”
No other Monarch was in double figure scoring but a lot of players on a deep Mitty roster contributed, even the two transfers.
Sophomore guard Hunter Hernandez, who impressed Maxpreps senior writer and San Francisco Chronicle contributor Mitch Stephens, had eight points and six rebounds. Senior guard Ania McNicholas had a very solid outing after finishing with eight points, six rebounds and four assists. Kate Conaway, a 6-2 senior whose height and size was needed against the big front line of Salesian, usually doesn’t score a lot, hit two three-pointers and scored all eight of her points in the first half. She also blocked three shots.
Both sophomore transfers, Marley Langi and Olivia Williams, saw time in only their fifth game since becoming eligible, and made the most of it. Langi a 6-0 forward that came over from Eastside College Prep-East Palo Alto, had all six of her points and five rebounds in the first half. Williams, a 6-0 forward that transferred from Pinewood-Los Altos Hills, had four of her six points in the first half, including three-pointer. Williams also snagged five rebounds.
“We’re still integrating the two new kids but I like the direction of our team, and as for Haley, what a night? She never stops amazing me,” said Phillips.
With the victory Phillips registered career coaching win No. 685, and that is good enough for No. 5 all time according to the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book. Earlier this season she passed the 679 wins of retired Petaluma Coach Doug Johnson.
The always humble Jones was looking ahead.
“We have Carondelet and St. Joseph Notre Dame coming up this month, and our league too, so every night there are things I can do better to make our team better,” Jones said. “Tonight I could have finished more shots.”
All Salesian Coach Stephen Pezzola could do was state the obvious, and gracefully which is always his nature.
“Mitty is quite good and with their transfers fitting in so well they are scary,” Pezzola remarked. “Their length and discipline on defense and intensity and discipline on offense is exemplary. I don’t know of a better team in the state right now. “
“Haley is amazing,” continued Pezzola. “And such a nice young lady to boot.”
Salesian (10-6) now has to put this game behind them and get back to business in the Tri-County – Rock League. The Pride also has dates with state-ranked Bishop Montgomery-Torrance and host Bishop O’Dowd at the Dragons MLK weekend event, and then they play Pinewood on Jan. 26 at home.