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Jefferson's role players key to state
The Jefferson High girls basketball team members know their roles. They have to. Basketball is a tall persons game, but Jeffersons tallest starter stands just 5-foot-8.
Its a big persons game and we dont play it right, said Jefferson coach Mike Grady. People say you cant play with short kids. Well, we only know one way we start four guards. Every single height listed in the program is a lie to make the girls feel taller. Our style of play is unusual, but we get the job done.
Each player has her own role on the team and knows how to play it. Its a brand of basketball the girls learned while playing with and against each other at Totem and Kilo junior highs.
Senior guard Michelle Morse, at 5-foot-6, is the teams go-to scoring threat. She holds all the school scoring records, and is on her way to setting a West Central District scoring record.
Shes our leader on the court, Grady said. Shes the silent assassin, because she doesnt say anything. She keeps her mouth shut and lets her scoring do the talking. People know shes going to score and do everything they can to try to stop her. When the moneys on the line, shell step up to the occasion.
Senior guard Jessiye Clark, at 5-foot-5, is the teams long-range sharpshooter.
When Michelle is penetrating, then you got Jessiye sitting out there waiting to shoot the three, Grady said. Its an inside-outside threat,
Clark led the South Puget Sound League in 3-pointers made this season and set a school record with 48.
If shes hot, you cant leave her unattended, Grady said. She has the green light to shoot at any time.
Mitzi Moore, a 5-foot-8 senior wing, is the teams defensive specialist. She helps contain the opponents taller players and helps get rebounds.
Honestly, she has been the key the past three playoff games, Grady said. Shes the defensive stopper in the middle. Shes got the toughest job. Talk about a role player that is so instrumental. She doesnt score much, but you gotta have someone who will do all the dirty work.
Against Skyview, Moore shut down the teams leading scorer and Player of the Year.
That was Mitzis job, to stop her, Grady said. What an incredible job. Shes a defensive specialist and a smart player.
Chelsea Hunt, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, is the teams leading rebounder and is another threat to make steals or the occasional 3-point shot.
Chelsea is our biggest point guard, the quickest girl on the court and the most athletic person we have, Grady said. She is instrumental in our press and can jump out of the gym. Defensively, she draws the No. 1 point guard and she dogs them the whole game.
Hunt is the teams leading rebounder and ranks in the top half of the league in steals.
She can score when she needs to, but she is an unselfish player, Grady said. If shes not on the court, we cant press.
Jeffersons height comes off the bench in 6-foot senior Amanda Foster or juniors Kezia Long, Kristin Woller and Ashley Osman.
The real help recently has been our big girls, Grady said. All of them together have really done a good job helping us match up against these big teams. We need their defensive presence. That size in the middle is crucial.
Senior guards Jessica Allen, Rachel de la Cruz and Vashti Tate rotate into the guard positions off the bench and reinforce the teams quickness at both ends of the court.
All three of them are very aggressive and help with our pressure defense, Grady said. They come out and give us minutes of chasing people. They give our starters breaks. Their main goal is as defensive stoppers.
Scouting report on Richland
Richland is a fairly tall, but young team that won a loser-out game to make it to state.
Jefferson played the eastern Washington school in a summer league and was fairly successful against them.
Richland was ranked 10th in state and finished second in its league behind Kennewick.
Richland has three sisters on the team, and their mom is head coach.