Garner’s defenses helps Bobcats stay undefeated
Published 7:30 am Thursday, February 27, 2014
Jaleesa Garner isn’t one of the leading scorers on the Brandywine girls basketball team.
But she’s very valuable to her team because of what she does on the other end of the court.
“She’s frustrated because she hasn’t shot the ball particularly well,” said Brandywine coach Josh Hood. “But her defensive intensity and ball pressure has really been a spark for us when she comes off the bench. Defensively, she’s probably one of our fastest kids. (Garner) creates steals and raises havoc. We live off of (defensive) pressure. We don’t work off of offense in our program.”
In their last two games, both against Cassopols, Brandywine has forced the Rangers into 80 turnovers.
“My defense is my number one strength,” said Garner.
Garner’s offense is still a work in progress.
“The only thing I need to work on is my shot,” Garner said. “I’m working on that. All I do is shoot in practice. My shot looks good in practice then in the game I get the jitters and shots don’t fall. But, I’ll get there.”
There are moments of offensive brilliance for the speedy sophomore, who scored six points in Brandywine’s 56-23 opening round district win over Cassopolis. Her drive to the basket gave the Bobcats a 16-7 lead with :17 left in the first quarter. Her beautiful pass to Makenna Hartline extended Brandywine’s lead to 25-9 with 4:40 left in the second quarter.
“Driving to the basket is the strongest part of my offensive game,” Garner said. “That’s all I did last year at Cassopolis.”
“Her ability to get to the rim helps us and she’s developing as a real good passer,” Hood said. “She showed (Monday against Cassopolis) that’s she’s learning how to distribute the basketball. She’s a very unselfish player.”
Garner’s personality is like her defense. Both have been a perfect fit for the Bobcats. Those fits have helped Garner quickly adjust to being a first-year student at Brandywine. Garner spent her freshman year at Cassopolis High School. She was the Rangers’ starting point guard.
“It hasn’t been a big adjustment,” Garner said about the move to Brandywine. “Everyone has been friendly to me. I love my teammates. They’re like sisters to me.”
Garner, who owns a 4.0 grade-point average, has had to get used to the high expectations for the Brandywine girls basketball program. The Bobcats, who take a 19-0 record into the district semifinal game against Bridgman, have won five straight Lakeland Conference titles, five straight district titles and four straight regional titles.
“At first, it was extra pressure,” Garner said about the expectations. “But, it’s all fun and getting after it on the court.
“I feel we can make it far in the tournament. We’ve just got to work hard in practice.”