Jaguars look to return to post-season


A young Jackson Memorial High School girls basketball team hopes to mature quickly through January to clinch a return to the Shore Conference and NJSIAA tournaments.

“We are very young, starting two freshmen. But we are getting better every day,” coach Rachel Goodale said as the Jaguars resumed their schedule after the holiday break on Jan. 5 against Toms River East. “These girls are committed to the grind.”

Daria Jones, a junior guard averaging 13 points per game, and Jenna McDonnell, a senior forward, are the only starters back from last year’s team.

Jones scored 17 points and McDonnell had 12 points on Jan. 5 in the Shore Conference A South Division game, but Toms River East pulled out a 43-34 victory with a 13-4, fourth-quarter surge. Jackson Memorial is 2-4.

Brittany Homes, a senior guard, is a new starter along with freshman forward Allison Wanzor and either Tylicia Mallory or Alexis Casella, both freshman guards. Junior Kara Howlett also has shown a knack for starting in the spot.

“That fifth spot changes every game,” Goodale said. “We play hard because we are very fit and try to use our athleticism and hold teams below their [scoring] average.”

Jackson Memorial beat Wall, 47-44, in the WOBM Classic opener — Jones led the way with 21 points, and McDonnell and Homes added 13 and 11 points, respectively — but lost to Toms River North, 38-27, as Jones led the way with 12 points.

With those strengths of fitness and athleticism comes the challenge of nurturing team trust with the many new players and, with that, team chemistry. It becomes even more important with five of the next seven games on the road.