'Seeing JP, it's just like a twin': Sophomore goes for career-high day after mother's sudden death

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HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Sunday, Donna Zunda Preston died suddenly, leaving behind three daughters and one son.

Courtesy: Scott Warren Photography

One of Preston's girls is a sophomore at Harlan County High School and logs valuable minutes off the bench for the Lady Black Bears.

"She always comes off the bench," said Head Coach Debbie Green.

Monday, the day after her mother died, Jaylin Preston, or JP for short, scored a career-high 19 points in a 73-65 district tournament win against rival Harlan.

"So I just said 'you play your heart out for your mom,' so she came off the bench," said Green. "And she was just dynamite from the get-go."

Some who knew Donna well said while watching her daughter play on the hardwood, you sometimes would think it was her.

"That every time I would see either one of them playing it was like it was a twin," said Bob Howard, who coached Donna at Evarts High School.

Howard had many stories to tell of the track star, calling her one of the fastest and most ferocious runners and competitors he had ever coached.

"She was just one of those people. You coach 200 kids and you remember Donna, she was just one of those kids. I don't care what happens," said Howard, laughing.

Monday, Jaylin did something she had shown glimpses of being able to do before.

"And for her to be able to come out here and compose herself and is a testament to her mother and just said so much about Jaylin's character," said Green.

Only this time she was playing for a lot more.

"Her mom always sat right behind the bench. I think she knew her mom was probably there. She would have been so proud," said Green.

The Lady Black Bears take on Bell County in the 52nd District Championship game at 7:00 p.m. Thursday at Harlan County High School.

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