Sixteen points would constitute a quality night’s work for many high school basketball players. But after the Mount Vernon girls basketball team won its season opener on Friday, head coach Terry Henderson sat on the team’s bench and said he needed more than that out of senior Jasmine McDonald.
McDonald’s team-high scoring output helped the Majors beat rival West Potomac, 48-41, at WPHS for a 1-0 start to the season. Last year, 16 points would have been plenty for the second-team All-National District selection. But an injury to all-state forward Tracy King and uncertainty whether all-district point guard Jalinda Venable will play for the Majors leaves Henderson needing more from McDonald, whose primary role as a junior was defense.
"My expectations for Jasmine are a lot higher than probably what she has for herself," the coach said. "I know what she can do and somehow we as coaches need to stay on her and bring that out of her. She’s a hell of a basketball player, but at times she’s too unselfish. Once she starts being a little more selfish, I think she’ll be OK. … She didn’t play bad, [but] with her being the only senior leader on the floor, she’s got to do more for us."
King tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during the Majors’ regional semifinal loss to Oakton in February. She is expected back in late December or early January. Venable, a first-team all-district selection last year, played with the Majors during a preseason scrimmage against Bishop Ireton, but was not listed on the team’s roster Friday. Henderson declined comment on the situation but said Venable’s return is questionable.
THE MAJORS have a trio of talented freshmen on the roster — Taylor Dunham, Kelly Loftus, Tiffany Webster — but McDonald will be leaned on for production.
"Last year, I had a role and I played that role well," McDonald said. "But now, more of it’s on me because we need a scorer. Yeah, they still want to use me for defense because that’s what I was used for last year. But now I need to be used more for offense, too, because they know I can score when I want to. … I feel I can do it, I just need to work at it."
McDonald scored 12 points in Friday’s first half. Her basket with less than 3 minutes remaining in the second quarter gave the Majors a 13-point lead en route to a 27-18 halftime advantage. West Potomac pulled to within six after consecutive baskets by Danuelle Doswell early in the third quarter, but the Wolverines got no closer.
"I think [the Majors] played hard," Henderson said. "That’s the only thing I can really say about the first game. They didn’t quit. … We’ve got a lot of work to do. [We had] too many turnovers, unforced errors. I like the fact they continued to work hard, they executed at times. There’s some positives we’ll take back and work with."
DUNHAM STARTED at point guard in place of Venable and scored 10 points in her first varsity game.
"I thought Taylor played excellent," Henderson said. "As a freshman, to come into her first varsity game not knowing what to expect and to handle the ball the way she did [and] handle pressure [was impressive]. … She had some freshman errors, some freshman mistakes, but overall I give her an A."
Loftus scored 13 points for the Majors. Webster finished with six points for Mount Vernon, Elizabeth Owusuwaa scored two and Lafatima Gray added one.
"I think people lost confidence in our team because of [King’s injury]," Loftus said. "But we just had to keep in it and prove them wrong."
Doswell led West Potomac with a game-high 17 points. Ravyne McFail scored 12 points for the Wolverines, Caroline Kelly and Lindsey Sawczuk each finished with four points and Janisha Liverpool and Blossom Pierre each added two.
West Potomac, which has five freshmen on its roster, dropped to 0-2 with a 44-40 loss to Wakefield on Tuesday. First-year head coach Vincent Tate said he is looking for his three seniors — Kiara Artis, Liverpool and McFail to step up.
West Potomac travels to face Lee at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Mount Vernon hosts Forest Park at 7:45 p.m. Friday.