Press paying off Mineola Lady Jackets

Published on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 23:34 - Written by Shane Stark

Mineola coach Clayton Harris considers multiple factors for the Lady Jackets being on the verge of the first playoff berth in program history.

One reason is the depth on the roster and the team having bonded during Harris’ first offseason at the helm. Another is the press, which has made Mineola one of the area’s most feared defensive teams.

“You can ask anybody that plays us and they will tell you that we press for four quarters,” Harris said. “It’s our job to wear you down. That helps us score points.”

Mixing multiple fullcourt, 3/4 court and half court presses, No. 23 Mineola is currently 25-3 on the season and 6-0 in District 15-3A with four games left in the regular season. That’s a far cry from last season, during which the Lady Jackets won only 10 games with a freshmen-laden roster.

And with this season’s team consisting primarily of the same players, it could be safely stated that Mineola has made a remarkable turnaround in just one season.

“We are deep,” Harris said. “We have 10 girls on the roster, and with seven of them you couldn’t tell who the starters are and eight, nine and 10 play huge minutes and have big roles.

“We are extremely athletic. We really have the perfect storm.”

Thanks to pressure defense, the Lady Jackets average 23.9 team steals a game and turn them into easy transition baskets that results in outscoring opponents 57-37 on average. Seven of the 10 players average two or more steals a game, with Peyton Stephens (4.3 spg), Marisa Ledkins (3.6 spg) and Jordan Dawson (3.5 spg) leading the way.

The other four players with at least two steals an outing are Kelsey Green (2.6 spg), Raven Johnson (2.5 spg), Ali Galaz (2.3 spg) and Sister Green (2.0 spg).

The key has been mixing up the different press packages, Harris said.

“We will run 12 to 15 different presses, and that’s on any given night,” said Harris, a 35-year-old Seminole native who’s spent most of his career coaching boys basketball. “During a tournament we will run anywhere from 20 to 25 presses. That’s assuming you go from full court to three-fourths court out of the same design.”

Dawson leads the Lady Jackets in scoring and rebounding at 11.6 points and 6.6 boards an outing. Galaz averages 9.4 points and 5.6 rebounds a game.

On Friday, Mineola plays host to tradition-rich Brownsboro (15-10, 3-3) at 6:30 p.m. The Lady Jackets will be hoping to close in on their first district championship, Harris said.

“Looking at the big picture, Mineola has never made it to the playoffs,” Harris said. “These kids are making history for this school.”