Green means go for Auburn Riverside senior Shantell Jackson.
Faced with Kentwood’s green jerseys all night, Jackson scored a career-high 34 points to lead the Ravens (13-4 overall, 11-2 SPSL North) to a 71-59 upset victory over the No. 10 Conquerors (11-4, 10-3) on Tuesday night.
“Most of the time if we’re preparing for a big game like this, I mentally prepare myself,” the 5-foot-9 Jackson said. “When I am in the mood and feel like I’m on a good streak, I just go for it. If not, I look for my teammates. I know that my teammates are ready.”
Jackson, averaging 13.7 points heading into the game, did the majority of her damage early from beyond the 3-point arc, where she has a unique flat-footed shot.
“Most of my coaches tell me to jump and I can’t jump,” Jackson said with a grin. “I pretty much taught myself because I don’t jump when I shoot.”
After scoring 15 in the first quarter with three 3-pointers, Jackson began to wreak havoc in the paint with second-chance opportunities, easily securing a double-double with her constant presence on the glass.
First-year Auburn Riverside coach, Tim Nelson, who formerly coached at Enumclaw in the mid-1990s, said nothing Jackson does surprises him anymore.
“We knew Shantell could go off,” Nelson said. “She’s averaging a double-double. We just knew it could happen. She has been putting in a lot of extra time lately. She really got after it today. She wasn’t going to be denied.”
Beyond Jackson’s big game, teammate Kendall Foster also contributed a solid performance by scoring 14 points, three of which came off a buzzer-beater to end the first half.
Although the victory was vital to maintain their second-place standing in the SPSL North behind Mount Rainier, there was some extra incentive for the six Riverside seniors.
“It was very important because last year we lost to them twice and it would have counted for us to go to state,” Jackson said. “This win really meant a lot to us, especially the seniors because we know a lot of the seniors on Kentwood. It was a mental thing and we just had to come together.”
For Kentwood, junior 5-10 guard Sarah Toeaina continued her dominating run in conference play, scoring 27 points and keeping the Conquerors in the game until late with her clutch shots in the paint.
Also, 5-11 forward Jenny Johnson added 14 points for Kentwood.
Kate Kramer, usually a big-time contributor for the Ravens’ offense, didn’t get many touches and finished with two points.
“They just have a great program,” Nelson said. “It’s just fun to play them because you know it’s going to be a good game. I have total respect for Kentwood.”