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For most 2-11 teams, the tunnel is either damp and dim
14-year-old freshman leads BHS girls basketball team in points, rebounds.
For most 2-11 teams, the tunnel is either damp and dimly lit or the light has flickered out all together.
But for the Bremerton girls basketball team, which lost 72-41 against Port Angeles Tuesday and is headed for a near-last-place-finish in the Olympic League, the kerosene continues to burn.
Thank Jalen Carpenter.
The 14-year-old freshman, who is listed at 6 feet 2 inches, is third in the Olympic League in scoring and rebounding, averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per game, and has emerged as Bremerton’s “go-to” player.
Nearly through her first season with the Lady Knights, the Mountain View Middle School product has spent the past few months adjusting to the speed and physicality of the high school game while fine-tuning, honing and building her own skill set.
Now, the player who coach Daniel McInnis calls “Stretch” is a bona fide scoring threat and the anchor of Bremerton’s offense.
“It’s harder than middle school,” Carpenter said Tuesday of the high school game. “In middle school, you get away with a lot of stuff. In high school, it’s on a more competitive level. But I think I’m doing good.”
Carpenter exploded for 32 points and 18 rebounds, both career highs, against Sequim Jan. 13 and leads the Lady Knights (2-11 overall, 2-7 league) in both scoring and rebounding. She’s dealt with double-teams, coped with defensive schemes built specifically to stop her and competed against 17- and 18-year-old players who have more strength and basketball experience.
“It’s really hard and it’s really different, but I like it,” Carpenter said. “When I play against them, I’m never intimidated. I just go in there; go hard or go home.”
With three more years of eligibility, Carpenter figures to not only remain Bremerton’s top scoring threat, but also to add size and strength to her already basketball-friendly build. In fact, McInnis said, doctors have predicted she will continue to grow, possibly reaching 6-foot-5.
“If that happens ... “ McInnis postured, shaking his head, “that would be great.”
Or for the opposition, not so great.
“You don’t get very many freshmen who can crack a varsity roster,” McInnis said. “Offensively, she’s very polished for a freshman.”
Carpenter prefers to play with her back to the basket, but McInnis said he’d like to see her develop her “face-up” game, something that should happen naturally with a little more experience.
“She’s got to get stronger, she’s long and tall,” McInnis said. “We’re trying to get her to have a more aggressive mentality.”
“She loves playing with her back to the basket and she’s good at it. When they try to play her man, she’s unstoppable.”
Jalen isn’t the only Carpenter on the Lady Knights’ team. Her twin sister, Kourtney Carpenter, who at times has been injured this season, also is on the varsity roster.
“I like playing with my sister. Sometimes it’s frustrating, I’m not going to lie. She’s my sister,” Jalen said, laughing. “I feel like I have to be hard on her because she’s my sister ... She gets mad, but I’m just trying to help.”
With more basketball talent than most and a twin sister to boot, the light couldn’t be brighter for Jalen.
“She loves basketball, she plays hard, she’s really intense, she wants to win, she’s very competitive, so she has all those things. And she’s a really good kid,” McInnis said. “She’s really putting in the time and effort. It’s going to pay off for her.”