Laila Jones leads Wilson girls basketball to comeback victory over Reading High

Jan. 7—With her team in a close game late in the fourth quarter, Wilson freshman Laila Jones stepped to the free throw line three times.

After starting the game just 1-for-7 from the stripe, Jones redeemed herself, knocking down five of her last six and lifting the Bulldogs to a 37-35 win over Reading High in a Berks Girls Basketball League Division I game on Friday night at Geigle Complex.

"I think that says a lot about her," Wilson coach Chris Gallo said about Jones' performance at the line. "She's been great."

With the game tied 32-32 with 2:30 to play, Jones made a pair of free throws to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game. After Reading High senior Ashanti Chapman went 1-for-2 from the line, Jones made two more to extend Wilson's lead to 36-33 with 1:11 remaining.

Jones returned to the line with 18 seconds to play and made 1-of-2 to make it 37-33 lead. She finished 6-for-13 on free throws.

"Just staying positive and being there for my team," Jones said. "I'm a leader on the team."

The Red Knights did not go away quietly, however, as Chapman made a layup to cut it to two with 10 seconds remaining. After a Wilson turnover, Reading High had a chance to win it, but a 3-point attempt from senior Laysha Pimentel at the buzzer was unsuccessful.

"I'm really proud of how much they fought," Gallo said about his team. "They were tough. There's something to be said for grinding one out like that."

The Bulldogs' late-game surge was led by Jones, who scored eight of her team's 15 fourth-quarter points and led all scorers with 12. In her first season of varsity basketball, Jones leads Wilson in scoring at 11.8 points per game.

"She's very coachable," Gallo said. "She just wants to get better."

Wilson (3-1, 6-6) dug itself a hole early, as Reading High started the game with a 7-0 run and led 11-4 after one quarter.

"We made some mistakes early," Gallo said. "(However), they were pretty poised."

The Bulldogs chipped away in the second quarter, outscoring Reading High 9-7, and trailed 18-13 at halftime.

Reading High (2-2 Berks I, 6-4) extended its lead back to seven points heading into the fourth quarter, but the comfortable lead was short-lived. With a plethora of turnovers committed by both teams in the fourth, the Bulldogs ended the game on a 9-3 run to score the comeback win.

"Sometimes with our quickness, we tend to speed up on everything that we do," Red Knights coach Rashida Suber said. "Everything is so rushed. We have to definitely work on being poised."

Reading High was led by senior Heavenly Franklin, who finished with 10 points, all in the first half.

"My girls are going to play hard no matter what," Suber said. "This was a good test to see where we're at."

With the win, Wilson takes sole possession of second place in Berks I. The Bulldogs and Red Knights will meet again on Feb. 3 at West Lawn.

"When a team is playing that aggressive, it's hard," Gallo said. "I can't say enough about the girls."