Sports

Jackson posts up for Lady Trojans

Senior Shannon Jackson leads the Olympic High School girls basketball team with 10.5 rebounds per game this season. - Mike Baldwin/staff photo
Senior Shannon Jackson leads the Olympic High School girls basketball team with 10.5 rebounds per game this season.
— image credit: Mike Baldwin/staff photo

Shannon Jackson is prone to scaring opponents with a towering 6-foot stature and a mean grimace under the hoop.

The Olympic High School girls basketball senior has provided the Lady Trojans with a post presence that’s created headaches for their rivals — including 17 points, 17 rebounds and five steals against North Kitsap High School earlier this season — but Jackson is also known for intimidating her own team.

“Her teammates don’t want to shoot against her in practice,” said Olympic head coach Laurie Shaw.

Jackson is averaging 11.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game this season. The Lady Trojans are 6-6 overall, 5-3 in Olympic League play and hoping to earn a high seeding in the upcoming district tournament in February.

“Mostly I can tell I’ve intimidated the other team by their facial expressions,” Jackson said, whose first year on the team has been a smooth transition. “I don’t feel like I give off that vibe, but that’s just me. And I can see it with my team, they are a little intimidated too, although I’m on their team, but I can’t help it.”

Olympic senior guard Nicole Jones said she’s sometimes intimidated by Jackson at practice when the team scrimmages. But Jones also believes her teammate’s post game goes a long way for a squad that would otherwise lack an inside shooter and defender.

“Having Shannon inside helps us a lot and keeps us out of trouble,” Jones said. “Her rebounding is big for us as well and without her, we wouldn’t have a post player.”

Jackson, the team’s leading rebounder, has been productive under the hoop on both sides of the ball. Shaw said Jackson’s long arms and ability to read opponents are advantageous. In addition, she’s also extended her minutes, staying out of foul trouble in 11 of 12 games. Her 20 steals outnumber 19 personal fouls this season.

“She knows when to go after it,” Shaw said. “She’s quick, which means she can get to the ball without getting called for the foul.”

For the post player, defense is the most important part of the game, and she welcomes the prospect of stopping other teams in their tracks.

There’s a method to Jackson’s defensive prowess, which she said is the best part of her game right now. The senior post player reads opponents by size first, then analyzes their body movements and mimics every move. It’s a trick she’s learned mostly from watching others play.

“Defense wins games,” Jackson said. “I enjoy playing defense, it’s kind of a challenge for me, and there’s something about defense that just excites me.”

She also picked up tips after spending the last four years in Japan. She grew up in Central Kitsap before her father was deployed to Yokosuka with the Navy. The Department of Defense has basketball leagues set up on the military bases, so Jackson managed to stay competitive on the court, thousands of miles from her hometown.

“I learned a lot,” she said. “The coaches over there were great and really hands-on. They were willing to help as long as you listened.”

Shaw said Jackson is the fourth student-athlete in the past year to compete for Olympic after playing in Japan on military bases. She described the recent trend as a recruiting funnel from overseas.

The Lady Trojans coach added that it didn’t take long for Jackson to acclimate herself with the team earlier this season. Jackson’s transfer back home was perfect timing for Olympic, who currently stand in third place in the league.

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