As the games grow tougher, Jordan Jones almost always plays better. The big games do not bother her. She already has played countless big ones against her older sister Jaylan.
When family bragging rights are on the line, those can be some of the biggest and most important games ever played.
Jordan has competed with and played with Jaylan most of her life. That relationship and those experiences have molded her into the player she is now. And what a player the Muncy guard is.
Muncy’s Jordan Jones looks to pass during a game earlier this year against St. John Neumann.
Jordan has built her own identity and developed into one of Muncy's best players this century. The three-year starter has helped Muncy reach three straight state tournaments and was brilliant Friday, scoring 22 points as Muncy defeated favored Lewisburg, 41-31, in the District 4 Class AA third-place game.
"Without my sister I would not be who I am today," Jordan said. "I feel like I've gone through everything she's gone through. Since we were little I've done everything with her. It's to my advantage because it's like we're twins. We've always been so close and done everything together."
Jaylan is in college now, but still watches Jordan whenever she has a chance. She was there Friday when her younger sister put on a show. Jones made big shot after big shot and dazzled with her all-around play as Muncy reached states as a AA team after doing so as an A qualifier the past two seasons. She played well in all three district games and proved that no stage is too big.
Jones averaged 17 points in those games, played relentless defense and hit some huge free throws late as Muncy (18-7) earned a spot against Holy Cross/Dunmore in Saturday's first round.
"She's a tough player," Lewisburg coach Phil Stamm said.
Jones has displayed a knack for playing her best in the biggest games the last two years. Last season she scored a career-high 27 points in a first-round district win over Bucktail and was 8 for 8 from the field and line in the fourth quarter. In her first district game this season, Jones calmly swished three straight free throws in the final minute of a 48-44 quarterfinal win over Williamson, draining the last two to clinch the win in a 1-and-1 situation.
A week later, Jones held her own against three-time defending district champion Mount Carmel, scoring 19 points in the semifinal loss. She then saved her best for Lewisburg, shining in all facets as Muncy validated itself as one of the district's best Class AA teams.
When the game was its most tense in the fourth quarter, Jones was at her best. She made six of seven shots from the floor and line, scoring 10 points as Muncy fought off a Lewisburg comeback. During that time, Jones also showed why she can be so tough to defend, taking it strong to the basket and scoring over two bigger girls and then draining a long-range 3-pointer the following possession.
Before the postseason began, Jones told Muncy coach Craig Weaver Jr. this was the moment she had been waiting for. She has embraced it ever since.
"When we got to playoffs Jordan said, 'coach I want this and I want it bad,'" Weaver said. "Her play speaks for itself. We talk about how talk is cheap. You have to do it on the floor and she stepped up and she answered that."
Jones is only a junior, but she is the team's most experienced player. She also is its team leader. That is a role she has embraced since she first joined Muncy two years ago. That year, she helped Muncy have its best season in seven years as it reached states for the first time since 2002. That season ended in frustration, however, when Jones tore her ACL in a district quarterfinal win over Sullivan County.
Unfazed, Jones attacked her rehab the way she does the basket and came back strong last year as Muncy again reached states. This year has been Jones' best. She is averaging close to 15 points per game and is among team leaders in assists, steals and rebounds. Friday against Lewisburg, she grabbed six rebounds, made four steals and efficiently ran the offense.
It was basically a microcosm of everything the intelligent and well-spoken junior has done the past three seasons. Whatever it takes, whatever Muncy needs, Jones can deliver.
"Jordan has been a leader since she's been a freshman because that is in her makeup. That's who she is," Weaver said. "It doesn't matter if it's here or at practice or at home. Jaylan will tell you that she is just a go-getter. When she sets her mind to something she's very good."
That was true with Jaylan and she passed it down to her younger sister. Together, they were double trouble for opponents in basketball and softball the past two seasons as Muncy reached the postseason each time. Apart, Muncy is still thriving and Jaylan is still making an impact.
Everything Jordan does is a reflection of her older sister.
"Her going off to school, it's been an adjustment," Jordan said. "The rivalry, the competition with each other and being with each other has definitely made me who I am."
And Muncy is grateful.