The women’s basketball team’s season is well underway and they appear to have a bona fide court general and top scorer in the conference leading the charge on a hopeful road to success.
Bria Jackson, a former two-time first team member and two-time tournament team player at Rush-Henrietta High School, has brought her talent and leadership to the Ladys Knights’ locker room.
Through the season’s first five games, Jackson’s 22.4 points per game is tops in the East Coast Conference.
“We are very proud of her,” said head coach Bet Naumovski. “Both on and off the field she is our engine.”
Growing up, Jackson was always surrounded by the game of basketball. Her entire family played basketball, including her father, Tim Jackson, who was her motivator and a coach for different organizations. She began to play organized basketball when she was 8, but her memories come from playing in the state championship game at Rush-Henrietta.
“We weren’t the favorites to win the championship,” said Jackson about her most memorable time during her junior year at the school. “We ended up winning both games by only six points; it was close.”
Jackson, and Shenise Johnson — who later attended the University of Miami and now plays for San Antonio Silver Stars in the WNBA — led the team to back-to-back state championships during her junior and senior years.
Last year was supposed to be Jackson’s first season with the Knights but because of course credit issues, the team decided to red-shirt her.
“I was motivated,” said Jackson. “I stayed active, practiced when I could and got extra shots until I got the news I could play again.”
Before the start of the season, the Lady Knights were predicted to finish near the bottom of the conference in a coaches poll. Many thought the team’s new players were going to need more time to develop team chemistry.
But the team’s revamped roster — which only includes one player from last year’s squad, Catherine Pastor — has started to build more team chemistry with Hurricane Sandy relief projects and more playing time.
Jackson said building the team chemistry this year has been relatively easy.
“Everybody is so cool and we all hang out all the time; that carries over to on the court,” she said.
The Lady Knights finished 1-25 and 0-16 in the ECC last season. After an early two game losing skid that dropped the team’s record to 2-2, Jackson made sure the Lady Knights were poised to eclipse last year’s conference wins total on their first attempt.
“We know we have to be better than the last games,” said Jackson before the Lady Knights defeated conference foe, Mercy College, 82-43, Saturday. “The team is really self-motivated and everybody wants to win here.”
In 39 minutes Saturday, Jackson scored 16 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had five steals. Despite turning the ball over four times, she dished out three assists.
Jackson didn’t disappoint in the two recent losses either; she racked up a season-high 29 points in the game against Lowell and 21 points against Holy Family. Her scoring ability and overall dedication to the team is what led the QC athletics department to acknowledge her as Student-Athlete Player of the Week. She had also previously won ECC Player of the Week for her efforts in the Clarion LaGuardia Tip-Off Tournament.
“It feels very good,” said Jackson about her accomplishments before attributing her success to the team.
“Having the season we had last year, we didn’t get any recognition and everybody thinks we are going to be this terrible team as a reflection of last year,” Jackson added. “We are actually a brand new team. So it felt good.”