West Lafayette girls pursue basketball championships
November 13, 2012West Lafayette Jr.-Sr. High School
Kayla Jones left her soccer cleats in the closet this fall.
Now the West Lafayette senior is ready to reap the benefits.
Jones helped the Red Devils win soccer sectional and regional championships as a junior, but committed herself fully to basketball as a senior.
“I got to use that time instead of playing soccer just to work on my game in all aspects,” said Jones, who averaged 8.5 points per game last season. “That was really useful.”
Others who weren’t involved in a fall sport joined her, and Jones hopes the Red Devils can show that hard work pays off.
After starting 3-3 last season, the Red Devils finished 10-6 for a 13-9 record, their first winning season since 2006-07. West Lafayette already has started 2-0 with wins over Western and Harrison last week.
The players know the potential is there for a great season. That’s why they spent all those hours in the gym and that’s why Jones has stepped up her position as a team leader.
“It doesn’t mean she doesn’t like soccer. It was just she wanted to work to be a basketball player,” WL coach Jane Schott said. “She decided she wanted to work to maybe play college basketball somewhere. She knew she needed to get better, and she spent a lot of days in the gym in the spring, fall and summer.”
Those who did play a sport in the fall came into basketball season immediately seeing a difference, mainly in Jones and fellow senior Grace Palmieri, who also elected to improve her basketball skills in the fall instead of return to the soccer field.
“They are more confident with the ball this year,” said Shelby Mann, a junior who plays soccer.
While Jones experienced monumental team success as a member of the soccer program, she has yet to win a championship of any kind as a four-year varsity player in basketball.
Now a senior, this year provides the final chance for Jones and her three classmates to add that status. It begins this week with the J&C Hoops Classic. Tournament play begins tonight at Resler Gymnasium. The Red Devils play host McCutcheon on Tuesday night.
Jones has always been a driving force behind this group, which also includes Grace Van Sickel and Anna Searle, on the basketball court.
But those closest to her can see a major difference between the younger versions of Jones and the current mold, one desperate to show last season was just the beginning of where Schott can take this program.
“Kayla has always been the most dedicated person on our team,” Searle said. “From our freshman year on, the way she has carried our team has been incredible. Even when she was a freshman, the work she put in you could see out on the court.
“I am really excited about her this season and where she can take our team.”