By Paul and Riki Bolster
The girls basketball team at Maynard Jackson High School was stopped short of playing for all the marbles. Already Region champions with a record of 25-1, Kell High School from Marietta, stopped their run in the state playoffs for AAAAA schools. The Jaguars had knocked off Greater Atlanta Christian, 69-42, Dalton High School, 69-41, and Union Grove, 54-47 to be in the Final Four. But an experienced Kell team shut them down, 56-37.
“We’ll be back,” vowed Assistant Coach Maurice Miles. “Our youthfulness showed itself. Experience counts at this time of the year. Experience is the master teacher, I tell my players,” he said. There is only one senior on this year’s team, he pointed out, and hopes new players from King Middle School will add to the roster.
He is proud of the progress the team has already made: Sweet Sixteen two years ago, Elite Eight last year, and Final Four this year. Overall, they were ranked second in the state in their division.
In addition to the Region championship, team member Taliah Cornish was named Region 5AAAAA Player of the Year. Cornish, a junior, has already scored 1000 career points, averaging 21 points a game and shooting 87% from the foul line. She also carries a 4.0 academic grade point.
“Of all the teams at Jackson, this team has the most competitive fire,” said Elizabeth Millmon, student trainer. “They want to win. Before each game they challenge themselves to score 70 points. When sometimes things go wrong, they get together and solve it like family.”
Game coach Miles points to communication as the key to their success. “The team works better as an underdog. They’re smaller, but fast. They work hard. They treat every game like a championship game,” he said.
Perhaps unique to Jackson’s basketball team is the yoga class they hold after games which, according to Coach Miles, “gives them a chance to talk and share about the game and anything else.”