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Lakyn Joy proved to be invaluable as ‘Jackets punched ticket to state

Lakyn Joy was pretty quiet.

Nearly silent, in fact.

She was one-for-something from the field with just three points.

“I didn’t really know how the night was going to go,” she said.

But that wasn’t the worst part. St. Marys, predictably, continued fighting in the third quarter of a regional co-final. Howie Meeks and company were clamping down on defense and taking away the Yellowjackets’ two biggest scoring options in Jayla Wiseman and Nicole Reynolds. Now screamed as good a time as any for someone else stepping up and aiding the Yellowjackets in their quest to return to the Charleston Civic Center for the first time in four years.

Naturally, the ball kept coming to Joy because she was Williamstown’s top 3-point threat. Any and all given assistance would be greatly appreciated. “It isn’t like she is a streak shooter,” Williamstown head coach Fred Sauro said. “She is pretty consistent and stretches defenses. She always has the green light. When you are making it at a 43% percent rate, you should be putting it up.”

It isn’t like she was lacking the full faith of her teammates, either. She most certainly wasn’t. “We have seen her go off multiple games and she is a great shooter, and it is usually automatic,” Wiseman said.

So, now Joy was facing a big decision: Would she pass the ball off and hope another teammate would help bring the ‘Jackets back or would she take it on herself to bring the offense?

She chose to be the closer. Over the course of the next eight minutes, Joy hit dagger after dagger repeatedly stifling their rival’s comeback attempts and giving the Yellowjackets more and more energy.

Just listen to head coach Fred Sauro’s thoughts after she connected on the first one from the right side of the arc.

“I hope she makes the next one,” he said after he watched her long triple to stretch the lead to 26-15. “It energizes our guys when we hit 3s and kind of gets us going.”

That is certainly telling.

If seeing is believing, then the Yellowjackets put on a clinic over the next couple of minutes. St. Marys’ three makes read as inconsequential because Joy kept hammering them while they were down. One of the triples came out of a timeout. She released it so smoothy that everyone inside St. Marys High School knew it was going in, which, of course, it did. Her shot ended the latest comeback bid from the Blue Devils at 33-29.

Of course, another bit of magic flowed through her before buzzers blared signaling the end of the period. This shot kissed the nylon and elicited a growl from the Yellowjackets’ No. 10. She knew she answered the call to the best of her abilities.

St. Marys eventually tying the game up was a blow, but it wasn’t a dagger. By hitting her shots, Joy did exactly what she was supposed to do in bringing energy to her entire team.

Everyone regrouped for the stretch run and made sure the Blue Devils wouldn’t be celebrating on their own home floor. As if that wasn’t enough heroics, there came on more moment on the final possession of the game. As if she sensed one final chance to make her mark, the Yellowjacket pounced on Zoe Davis caused problems. By swarming Davis, thus not allowing her to get off her attempted game-tying 3, and taking the ball away with just seconds remaining, Joy sealed the win.

To top it all off, she received rave reviews for her performance after the game.

“I mean we definitely rely on her 3s for sure and I don’t know where we would be without her,” Wiseman said.

“I don’t think we win that game without her. I think what she did was very valuable. We have won games without her, but it is always better when she is on the floor,” Sauro said.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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