By Bobby Mathews, Sports Editor
VESTAVIA HILLS — The fourth-ranked Hewitt-Trussville Huskies didn’t sneak out of the Rebels’ stronghold during a 49-47 victory here Friday night.
Instead, they raced out to a 9-0 margin to start the game against the No. 2-ranked team in 7A, leading for most of the game before closing things out in the final seconds with a hard-fought defensive stop to deal the Lady Rebels their second loss of the season.
Vestavia’s Sarah Gordon drilled a pair of three-pointers to get the Lady Rebels back into it early, cutting the lead to 11-8 at one point, but it was hard for Gordon to sustain that kind of momentum for long, as she drew three fouls in the first half and was forced to take the bench.
Meanwhile, Hewitt-Trussville’s April Hicks also garnered three fouls in the first half, limiting one of the Huskies’ most talented shooters.
The Huskies relied on D’Yona Jones to get things moving offensively. Jones finished with 26 points to lead all scorers. She also had four blocks. Vestavia Hills could do nothing with Jones in the first half, as she went to the basket from the low blocks again and again. The Huskies led the Rebels 15-12 after one quarter, with Jones scoring 10 of the team’s total points.
“Our girls are playing really well,” said Hewitt-Trussville head coach Tonya Hunter. “I think our girls are more battle-tested. If you look at our schedule, every team we’ve played is ranked. We’ve tried to play a lot of teams in our area so I mean, tonight we just pulled it out. It really could have gone either way. These are two really good teams. Vestavia is very well-coached, so I am proud of my girls for executing our game plan.”
Hewitt-Trussville maintained momentum in the second quarter, going into halftime with a 29-25 lead after Vestavia’s Emma Smith went two-for-two from the foul line to make it a four-point game.
Vestavia took the lead in the third quarter after the Lady Rebels made and adjustment on the defensive end of the floor. For most of the first half, Vestavia had double-teamed Jones, but they were unsuccessful, as she scored 16 by halftime. In the third quarter, however, the Lady Rebels collapsed three players on Jones whenever she got the ball in the paint.
On the offensive end of the court, Vestavia’s Gordon hit a layup and then dialed up another three-pointer to finally take the lead for the Lady Rebels with 4:02 to go in the third, 32-31. Vestavia would push their lead to 34-31 until Audre Benson answered with a trey of her own to tie it up at 34-all.
With time winding down, Vestavia took another three-point lead, 37-34, and as the Huskies scrambled to score, it looked like their strategy to keep Jones in check in the second half had paid dividends.
The strategy did work — until it didn’t. With little more than a second left, Jones took an inbound pass on the baseline and drove strong into the lane. She went up for the layup and got the foul, adding a free-throw to tie it up with half a second left in the quarter. Those three points were Jones’ only points in the third.
“Dyona is going out with a bang. Her sophomore year she had a bone bruise and was out for 15 games,” Hunter said. “The second year, she had Covid, so I think the game owed this to her. She’s been working hard. You can tell her work ethic, and she’s just an awesome kid.
Jones started the fourth quarter with a a bucket and then got her third blocked shot of the night at the defensive end. From there, Chrischandria James banked in a shot, and Hewitt-Trussville took the lead and momentum away from Vestavia. While the Lady Rebels kept it close, they could never quite get past the Huskies. The last shot missed, and James came down with the final rebound.