Senior trio has Blue Jays soaring
Jackson-Milton’s senior trio has been pivotal
in the program’s continued success
By Dan Hiner
The Jackson-Milton girls basketball team lost on Jan. 29 to McDonald, snapping an almost two-year conference winning streak.
But for head coach Pat Keney, the conference success and the 24-game regular season win streak was a product of a culture change.
He credits seniors Michaelina Terranova, Emily Williams and Haley Lengyel with turning the program into a regional contender.
During the trio’s freshman season in 2014-15, Jackson-Milton advanced to the district finals but lost to Western Reserve 39-38. Keney knew the class of 2018 would help take the program to the next level.
“Their freshman year, they were really used to working hard,” Keney said. “The group they came in to play with didn’t have the right work ethic. These guys worked hard since their freshman year and that group held them back a little bit because they didn’t have the same ethic of working hard and working together.
“These girls don’t care about who scores points here. The only thing they want to do is win and they are very unselfish, and that wasn’t the case.”
Over the last two years the Blue Jays won back-to-back district titles and advanced to the Region 14 finals in 2017.
With the playoff draw approaching, Jackson-Milton is expected to have another high seed in 2018.
“We want to make sure we keep improving and making changes,” Emily Williams said. “That way we get better and are where we want to be when it comes to tournament time.”
Melissa Williams, Emily Williams’ mother, played for Keney during the team’s 20-0 season in 1988-89. Emily Williams said her mother has given the players advice because she dealt with similar success during her career.
“She definitely helped me with what she went through, what she wishes would have gone differently, so we can have a different outcome and go farther — any improvement, now that she’s older, that she would have wanted,” Emily Williams said.
Keney said the senior class treats the underclassmen “the way they want to be treated” and has passed on their team-first culture.
The seniors are the Blue Jays’ top assist leaders. Terranova leads the team with 4.9 assists per game. Emily Williams is averaging 3.2 assists while Lengyel ranks third with 2.3. Terranova is also the leading scorer, averaging 17.4 points and five rebounds.
After the Blue Jays’ only loss of the season, Keney reminded his players that the loss was only one game.
Terranova said the seniors have focused on building the confidence of the younger players. She said the team will rely on them more and will make Jackson-Milton a better team as the season progresses.
“We’re gonna go out and play each game one at a time,” Terranova said. “And for each game, make it the best game we played all season.”