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Sports Leadership Important for Point Guards Mount Vernon Gazette Sports Editor Jon Roetman 703-224-3015 or jroetman@connectionnewspapers.com

Mount Vernon senior returns after questioning desire.

By Jon Roetman The Gazette

J alinda Venable figured to be an integral part of the Mount Vernon girls bas- ketball team’s quest to repeat as National District cham- pions in 2010.

The senior point guard had tal- ent: “She sees plays two and three seconds before they actually hap- pen,” Mount Vernon head coach Terry Henderson said before the season in the Dec. 3 edition of the Gazette. “Sometimes she’s actually putting the ball in places girls should be and just haven’t made it there yet.”

She had credentials: Venable garnered first team All-National District honors her junior season.

But she didn’t have desire. Venable practiced with the Ma- jors in late November but decided she no longer wanted to play around one week before the team’s Dec. 4 season opener at West Potomac.

“I felt like this wasn’t what I was meant to do,” Venable said Tues- day. “My heart wasn’t in it.”

Venable missed Mount Vernon’s first three games — the Majors went 2-1 — before being con- vinced she belonged on the hard- wood. It wasn’t so much a rush of desire that returned Venable to the Majors, but rather a realization that working hard in an area of ability would better her tomorrow. Venable has a goal of going to col- lege.

“After awhile people talked to me about it and I realized it’s not so much what I want to do now but it will help me in the future, so I decided to keep on playing,” Venable said. “A lot of people stayed on top of me [saying], ‘If you’re so good, why don’t you want to play? Why would you waste talent?’”

Venable joined the Majors for their trip to California for a holi- day tournament Dec. 26 and 28- 30 at Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village. As one of Mount Vernon’s best players and its point guard, Venable is in a leadership position. After missing three games, however, Venable felt like a hypocrite upon her return.

“I felt like at one point I let them down,” she said. “Who am I to be like, ‘You need to work hard.’ But they respected me so I just kept leading.”

Venable said the close-knit na- ture of the Majors helped ease her transition.

“It was awkward to a certain extent, but at the same time all my teammates had talked to me and really wanted me to be back on the team,” she said. “We’re like a fam- ily so it was easier for [me] to come back. We’re real close to each other so it wasn’t that hard.”

Henderson said the team re- sponded well to Venable’s return.

“I think the girls accepted her back,” he said Tuesday. “Jalinda is the type of person — I’d like her to be more of a leader in practice [rather than just during games] —

she does look out for other girls’ feelings. Just coming back, she probably didn’t feel she demanded that respect. But she’s Jalinda Venable. It was an awkward situ- ation that we went through but every team goes through a little adversity. We weathered the storm and we’re ready to roll.”

Mount Vernon has won eight of 12 games since Venable came back. The Majors are 10-5, 7-2 in the National District.

Photo by Louise Krafft/The Gazette

more she keeps shooting them and [keeping] that confidence going, they’re going to fall when we need them to.”

caught up in the pressure of fac- ing Edison or Goodwin.

“[Last season I did], but then I just took it as another game,”

Venable said she didn’t get

See Playing, Page 20

On Tuesday, Mount Vernon hosted its biggest threat to the dis- trict crown: Edison, which won five straight titles before last sea- son. Edison was led by National District MVP Myisha Goodwin, the one point guard in the Northern Region Henderson said he consid- ers superior to Venable. The Eagles prevailed, 62-59, and Goodwin outscored Venable, 23-13. The two rarely defended one another. Re- gardless, Venable’s talent’s were on display as she knocked down a pair of 3-pointers, scored on sev- eral drives to the basket and her quickness made her a defensive presence. She isn’t knocking down as many perimeter shots as Henderson would like, but the coach is confident her shots will start to fall.

“She’s a point guard that can score,” Henderson said. “One of her best attributes is she sees the floor extremely well. … She can flat out score. We’ll take those wide-open 3s. They haven’t been falling. That’s good and bad. Right now, they’re not falling, but the

Mount Vernon point guard Jalinda Venable, a first-team All-National District selection last season, is back play- ing at a high level after missing the first three games of the season.

Sports Briefs

Majors Beat Edison

Led by 28 points from Jesse Konadu, the Mount Vernon boys basketball team defeated Edison 68-59 on Tuesday. The team improved 12-3, 8-1 in the National District.

Skylar Jones scored 15 points for the Majors and Sean Stewart added 14.

Mount Vernon also beat Washington- Lee 81-58 on Friday. Robert Smith scored a team-high 16 points. Konadu and De’quan Doyle each had 12 points. Eleven different Majors scored at least one point.

Mount Vernon hosts Wakefield at 7:45 p.m. Friday.

MV Girls Fall Short Against Edison

The Mount Vernon girls basketball team missed a potential game-tying 3-

point attempt in the closing seconds dur- ing a 62-59 home loss to Edison. The Ma- jors fell to 10-5, 7-2 in the National Dis- trict — both district losses came against Edison.

“If we had been playing that hard all year and that type of basketball all year, this would probably be our first loss,” Mount Vernon head coach Terry Henderson said. “The regular season doesn’t really mean a thing. … It’s going to be us and Edison in the district cham- pionship game. If we win that game, this [loss] is out the window. It’s about get- ting that No. 1 seed from the district tour- nament. They know from this game to- night that we can beat them.”

Tracy King led Mount Vernon with 15 points. Jalinda Venable scored 13 points for the Majors and Jasmine McDonald added nine.

Mount Vernon travels to face Wakefield at 7:45 p.m. Friday.

West Potomac Boys Lose to South County

The West Potomac boys basketball team lost to South County 73-61 at home Tues- day. The loss dropped the Wolverines to 9- 7, 5-4 in the Patriot District.

Daryl Copeland led the Wolverines with 29 points. Martez Redfearn and Keevyn Hankins each scored 11.

The Wolverines beat Lee 64-62 on the road Friday. Shawn Lee knocked down a pair of free throws with 2.3 seconds remain- ing for the win.

West Potomac hosts Lake Braddock at 7:30 p.m. today.

Fort Hunt Softball Registration

Registration for Spring Softball is available. Prior to registering a child for a Fort Hunt

Spring sport, review the Spring 2010 Sea- son information for the sport. See the “Softball” link at the top of the fhyaa.org Web site for information on the softball program. Register online at fhyaa.org. For questions about the spring softball sea- son, contact Commissioner Ilene Dranoff (fthuntsoftball@yahoo.com).

Fort Hunt Baseball Registration

Registration for Spring Baseball is available. Prior to registering a child for a Fort Hunt Spring sport, review the Spring 2010 Season information for the sport. See the “Baseball” link at the top of the fhyaa.org Web site for information on the baseball program. Register online

See Sports Briefs, Page 20


Mount Vernon Gazette January 28 - February 3, 2010 19

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