East Jackson High School girls basketball coach Meeka Sova knows she has a special group of kids on this years’ team.
But there’s nothing like confirmation.
“This is a great group of kids,” Sova said. “But it’s so refreshing to hear it from others. I’m constantly talking to our teachers who say the girls are a pleasure to have in class, they’re attentive and they’re good students. I received an e-mail the other day from someone who’d attended one of our games and wanted to compliment us our sportsmanship – and this is someone from completely outside the program. I think the girls on this team genuinely like each other, they work hard and they have tremendous character.”
Oh, and they’re pretty good, too…
Heading into this week’s action the Trojans (11-4 overall and 9-2 in the Cascades Conference) are just a game behind Manchester for first place.
“It’s a continuation from how we finished last year,” Sova said. “And there’s the excitement of last years’ boys team, as well. The girls saw how much fun the guys had, and how excited the entire EJ community was during that great season last year and they wanted that for themselves. The players on the boy’s team are our loudest supporters. The girls worked extremely hard over the summer and during the off-season and it helps that we have a lot of experience on the team.”
Generally, the Trojans will start three juniors and two seniors, but even the juniors have multiple years of starting experience at various levels.
The key to the team, however, could be the calm leadership of the Trojans top player – senior Kassidy Blough.
“Kassidy has been outstanding for us this year, as we knew she would be,” Sova said. “She’s improved her defense and she has a very calming presence on the court that trickles down to the other girls. What’s unique for this team is we have multiple players who can make plays for us, and yet we have a true go-to player in Kassidy that we look to first.”
The result is a team in the mix for a championship in one of the toughest conferences in the state.
“I think Manchester winning the state title last year did wonders for recognition for our conference,” Sova said. “We went to camp last summer and people were surprised at the level of competition in the Cascades when we started naming the teams.”
For now, though, Coach Sova isn’t worried about other teams.
She’s only focused on the Trojans.
“We have to keep working on the mental part of our game,” the coach continued. “Once the tournament gets here, especially in this area, all the teams know each other and it’s one-and-done. It’s not always the best teams that advance, but the smartest ones. We have to keep working on the mental aspect of the game so that we make all those little decisions that can lead us to big things.”
In one of the coldest winters on record, things could soon heat up for the East Jackson Trojans girls basketball team. With a go-to leader, lots of experience and plenty of playmakers, they’re rolling towards March with an eye on big things.
As Coach Sova said, it’s not always the best team that moves on – sometimes it’s the smartest team.
These Trojans might just be both.