Veteran Jaguars expecting big season


The Evans sisters were eager to start the 2010-11 basketball season at Jackson Memorial High School and that eagerness showed right from the start when the Jaguars rolled over crosstown rival Jackson Liberty High School, 69-34, on Dec. 17 behind 17 points from Christa Evans and 15 points from Shannon Evans, a junior.

On Dec. 18 the Jaguars started their WOBM Tournament game against Raritan High School with a 17-0 first-quarter lead with Christa Evans and sophomore guard Hannah Missry each scoring six points en route to a 57-9 victory. Stephanie Mason sank 14 points.

The Jaguars will play Monsignor DonovanHigh School of Toms River on Dec. 26 in the next round of the WOBM Tournament.

Last year’s Jackson Memorial team went 23-4 and won the Shore Conference A South Division title. The strong backcourt duo of Dana Costello and Kaitlyn Testa has graduated, but the Jaguars are still looking for big things the winter.

“I am very excited with he way we are starting out,” said Christa Evans, who averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds a game last season. “I was a little nervous to see how we would do, but we did pretty well. Once we get in more practice, we’ll do fine.”

Making things a little easier for Evans is the emergence of guards Tiffany Montagne, a junior, and Mason, a sophomore, who backed up Costello and Testa last season. It also helps that Evans has accepted a basketball scholarship to Rutgers University, ending what could have been an arduous recruiting process during the season.

“It definitely takes a load off my shoulders, not having to worry any more about it (college recruiting). It’s less stress, but I still play the same. I am very happy it’s done,” said Evans.

“She is much more relaxed,” said Rachel Goodale, a Jackson Memorial graduate who is now in her 11th season as the Jaguars’ coach. “She had a lot on her plate last year. She’s stronger. Her jumper has better range and she has the ability to get to the rim on one dribble. She’s a big time NCAA Division I player who is so coachable.”

Evans said she is very excited to finish her high school career in basketball the way she did in volleyball — with her sister — as the two power players also had a successful fall season as middle hitters.

“She improved so much as a basketball player. I never saw a girl work so hard in the offseason,” Evans said of her sister. “I’m so proud of her.”

“Really?” said Shannon with a friendly giggle when told what her sister said about her. “I think I definitely improved from last year. I’m definitely trying to play more aggressively. Last year I was more passive and that’s not good.”

Goodale praised Shannon Evans’ offseason commitment, saying, “She has improved tremendously, which makes us a better rebounding team. She is more confident.”

What helps 6-3 Christa and 5- 11 Shannon is Kim Clemmer’s determination at forward and Missry’s long-range touch that rang up a state best 70 three-point field goals last season.

“She’s more versatile,” said Goodale of Missry. “She has a mix. She can handle, shoot and attack the basket.”

As for Clemmer, she shows the same determination on the hardwood that she showed during the soccer season when she started at sweeper on back-to-back Central Jersey Group IV and Shore Conference A South Division championship teams.

“She’s unbelievable. She will run through a wall to win a game or even a possession,” said Goodale of Clemmer. “She plays hard to another level. She plays a complete game and brings out the drive and energy in all the players.”

Clemmer is headed to Monmouth University next fall to play soccer for the NCAA Division I Hawks.

It is defense, however, that Goodale believes is the team’s strength.

“It’s ball security and we can lock up defensively because we are in very good shape and when you’re pretty fit, you can play good man-to-man defense,” the Jaguars’ coach said.

Add to that a roster where Goodale said she can start anyone from among eight players, including guards Dani Andreas, a senior, and Sarah Dessner and Erin Scheno, both juniors. Junior Jazmin Curet is a very athletic center who is a strong rebounder. All are up from the junior varsity.

“We have to pass the ball and share it better, and on defense, whatever concept we’re using, we need to be able to adjust on the fly,” said Goodale. “We’ve got to get better to beat elite teams. It will come one day at a time.”

Just like a year ago, Goodale sees the success of the fall soccer season driving her basketball team to continue that success, especially players like Clemmer and Andreas who excel in both sports.

“They know how to win and it becomes easy to coach kids like that,” said Goodale.

The Jaguars played at Brick Memorial High School on Dec. 21.