North Meck’s senior captains have put in the work the past couple of years to make their girls’ basketball team successful.With a 17-1 start, including an 8-0 mark in the I-Meck 4A, Kelly Beasley, Jasmine Bullock, Jasmine Cash and Kelsey Ellison are finally seeing that pay off.“We’ve put in so much work in the summer, the offseason and during our practices,” Beasley said. “It’s nice for everyone to see how hard we’ve worked.”Coming off a 14-13 season, Vikings’ coach Jennifer Baker challenged her team at last year’s banquet to change their approach to the game if they wanted a better outcome.Soon after, Ellison told Baker that no matter what it took, their team was going to win some sort of title this season. The team would adopt a new motto for this year – “No excuses.”That approach was quickly embraced by the senior captains and the rest of the squad.“It was a whole mentality change,” said Baker. “We went into the summer with them being leaders and being more vocal. ... It kind of catapulted into everything that we’re doing.”She added that the Vikings’ new mindset shows every time they hit the court.“They want to win,” said Baker. “But it’s not just that. They play hard. They go hard in practice. I really can’t ask anything more than they’re doing.”Bullock, who along with Cash is a four-year varsity player, said that this season’s team has a stronger bond than any other she’s played in while at North.“We all depended on one or two people – and that’s who the team was focused around,” said Bullock. “Now it’s different. ... I think that contributes to our success.”The chemistry also has a lot to do with the Lady Vikings graduating only one player, forward Eboni Dixion, from last year’s team.“We know how each other works, what makes each other mad, each others’ strengths,” said Bullock. “I think that helps us get along a lot better.”That also translates to better communication on the floor, especially from her senior leaders.“That’s a good feeling,” said Baker, “not having to yell every five seconds. They’re taking care of their business.”With an experienced group of seniors, the team’s maturity has also made a big difference. It’s helped the Vikings stay composed and patient to allow them to cool off late-game runs from opponents.“I don’t see them getting frantic on the court any more,” said Baker. “They just keep pushing and fighting.”North’s balance has also helped them. The team’s scoring has been evenly distributed all year.Aside from junior Destiny Barrino, who leads the Vikings with 13 points a game, Cash and Beasley, along with Jaydah Hayden and Brianna Jones, average about seven points a game.“We work as a team,” said Ellison. “It’s not one individual. It’s the starting five. It’s everybody.”Beasley agreed.“We can trust that everyone will do their job when they’re on the floor,” she said. “There’s no doubt in your mind that everyone’s going to play their hardest.”That makes the Vikings harder to stop.“If somebody’s not on, if somebody’s not hitting their shot, somebody will step up and do it for us,” said Baker.The Vikings hope their early-season momentum continues into the rest of the regular season and beyond.“I don’t think we’re overly confident, where we lose sight of everything,” said Bullock. “But we’re just confident enough that it helps us work together and pull out these wins.”The 5-foot-6 point guard thinks that her team has a lot of potential.“We’re capable of going all the way and winning states,” Bullock said. “That’s everyone’s goal on the team. We all believe we can win states.”For her team to be successful, Baker said, it has to stay focused and motivated down the stretch, especially not being an underdog any more.“We got that target on our back,” she said. “We know nobody’s going to sleep on us.”
Tuesday, Feb. 05, 2013
Seniors look to build off Lady Vikings’ hot start
North Mecklenburg thrives behind new mentality, experience and team balance
From left, senior captains Jasmine Cash, Kelsey Ellison, Kelly Beasley and Jasmine Bullock have helped North Meck to a 16-1 start. The Lady Vikings have high goals for the rest of the season. SERGIO TOVAR - email@example.com
Tovar: 704-358-5941; Twitter: @sergiotovar
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