Girls are getting ready to make run at states
In regards to his team’s accomplishments in the postseason, Northampton head girls’ basketball coach Jeff Jacksits doesn’t get caught up in the numbers.
After 15 years, he knows it’s often difficult to compare one team against another.
But Jacksits realizes his current squad has the ability to make its mark in the upcoming PIAA state tournament that begins this weekend with the Konkrete Kids meeting Methacton, the 11th seed from District 1, Friday night at Freedom High School.
“We have had teams with some dominate big girls like Aja Blount recently, but I don’t know how to compare this team,” said Jacksits. “We’re not really built to get into a half-court game with post players.
“We’re more an up-tempo team that wants to get the ball up the floor.”
Getting through Parkland and Freedom recently to capture the District 11 title, Jacksits credited the play of senior forward Jenna Rogers, who has established her presence in the post. Rogers also became a 1,000-point career scorer this season.
“Jenna (Rogers) has done a great job for us playing inside lately,” said Jacksits. “She has had to make some adjustments. We needed to play a smaller, quicker lineup against Freedom.”
Jacksits likes his team’s chances against Methacton (21-6), who has their fourth-best season in school history. He and assistant coach Rick Worman had the opportunity to scout their last game.
Freshman point guard Nicole Timko has been the team’s leading scorer. Junior Sydney Tornetta, who also is a scoring threat and the team’s leading rebounder, has missed the last two games due to injury. Methacton only has one senior starter.
“I like how we match up with them,” said Jacksits about his opponent. “I believe we are a little faster than them, and we should be able to get out and go. This is a game we should win.”
Winning this season for Northampton has quickly become a quiet constant. The Kids methodically rolled through their schedule, reeling off 13 consecutive wins in the process. Their 24-4 record heading into states is among the best in school history.
Yet, the Kids basically flew under the radar the entire season.
“It really snuck up on us,” said Jacksits about his team’s success. “Nobody thought we would be this good. We just went on our way and the girls got better. We knew we had a good nucleus back and our younger players really stepped it up.”
Rogers formed a trifecta threat with fellow senior Victoria Keenan, who has more than 1,600 career points, and junior Morgan Sterner. Senior Gabby Demchak was a steady force in the middle and freshman Kylie Gilliard developed into a steady contributor.
“Victoria (Keenan) can go to another level,” said Jacksits of his Seton Hall recruit. “She has taken over a game at nearly any point.
“But she has worked really hard to get everyone else involved and that’s been a big key for us. Morgan (Sterner) has done a nice job offensively and she has been a big defensive stop for us. Gilliard has hit her share of big shots.”
Keenan sees the potential of her team.
“States is always a great challenge because we don’t know the teams as well as in the EPC (East Penn Conference),” she said. “We have a strong team and played against great competition all year.
“I think when we play our game, we can compete with anyone.”
Demchak also believes her last trip to states can be a lengthy stay.
“I feel that we are working together as a team and we need to trust each other,” said Demchak. “I feel like we have a chance to make a run and we are feeling confident. We have been working hard and believe we can go far.”
Jacksits understands it is all about the run. The Kids are in the Western bracket and they will meet the winner of Norwin-Altoona Tuesday at a site to be determined.
“We’ll be doing some traveling,” said Jacksits. “Now it is about getting on a run. Every game is a championship game and we have to play that well.”