Class 5A Girls: Buford’s 36 leads Olive Branch to first state title

Photo by Keith Warren/MHSAA.

Endya Buford was a one-man wrecking crew.

Buford would pour in a game-high 36 points and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player to lead Olive Branch past West Jones 61-48 to claim the MHSAA Girls Class 5A State Championship at the Mississippi Coliseum on Friday night.

It is the Lady Conquistadors (29-4) first state title in school history after the 2017 state title got vacated due to an ineligible.

“It feels great to be holding this trophy. It is long overdue,” said Olive Branch coach Jason Thompson. “West Jones is a great team and their record proved. The kids played hard and were able to pull it out and Buford was outstanding tonight.”

Olive Branch never trailed the entire game.

Lady Quistors raced out to a 17-9 at the end of the first quarter and then built 28-15 lead midway through the second quarter and ended the first half up 35-23.

“Both teams were mirror images of each other because we both like to do somethings that resembles one another,” Thompson said. “I thought we had some things that could hurt and they some things that could hurt us. Just fortunate to score more points than them.”

In the third quarter Buford would score all of Olive Branch’s 13 points to go up 48-36 at the end of the period.

“I take a lot of shots in the gym every day to prepare me for this,” Buford said. “Two years ago, we had this taken away from us and we come out here and come out on top.”

In the fourth quarter West Jones opened on a 10-3 run to get within five at 51-46.

Buford would then score five straight points to push the lead back out to 10 at 56-46 to close the game out.

“She was just very special tonight,” Thompson said. “We had a lot of motivation coming into this game after what happened. This one is for all of those seniors from last year and two years ago.”

Jurnee McLaurin had 20 points to lead West Jones, while Brikayla Gray added 15 points for Lady Mustangs.