Jhemelia Edwards certainly has a sense for the dramatic.
Heading into a Jan. 26 game with Jay M. Robinson, the Concord High junior guard needed 11 points to reach 1,000 for her career. With the Spiders protecting a one-point lead with 40 seconds to go, Edwards reached the milestone on a free throw that helped Concord squeeze past their rival and essentially clinch the South Piedmont 3A Conference championship.
Edwards has done a lot of things right in her three years with the Spiders. She's been trying to help Concord win a second state championship since her freshman year and is emerging as a major college prospect.
Having played basketball since she was 6 years old, Edwards was a standout player by the time she reached middle school. She was such a one-dimensional offensive threat at Concord Middle that she admits she rarely played defense.
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Still, the Miners won the conference championship in her eighth-grade year. Many players on that team played on an AAU team that had a strong reputation, and Edwards was part of a freshman class with great expectations as it reached Concord High in the fall of 2007.
"My expectation was to be (part of) the first freshmen (class) to get a state championship ring," said Edwards. "Everybody thought we couldn't do it because we were so young."
Edwards was in the starting lineup the entire season and shared the point guard position with sophomore Nyshia Hammonds. Edwards was named all-Western Regional as Concord reached the 3A state championship game.
Perhaps due to a small case of the nerves, Edwards had a shaky start in the title game. Her first shot hit nothing but air, and she registered her second foul early in the second quarter, forcing coach Angela Morton to sit her on the bench for most of the period.
Edwards went on to make three three-pointers and score 14 points, helping the Spiders win the championship.
With her outside shooting showing even greater improvement, Edwards averaged 16 points, five rebounds and five assists as she was named all-conference during her sophomore year. Looking for a repeat, the Spiders were disappointed to lose in the regional semifinals.
With a bevy of talent at point guard, Morton asked Edwards to switch to one of the wings for this season. She is occasionally playing some point guard and is averaging 13 points, four assists, and six rebounds a game.
In addition to scoring her 1,000th point, Edwards is getting close to the school record for three-pointers in a game. In a home game against Northwest Cabarrus on Jan. 22, Edwards drained six treys, falling one short of the school mark. She has recorded five three-pointers in two other games this season.
"When Jhemelia got here I think everybody thought of her as (only) a three-point shooter," said Morton. "I think what she's really become is a scorer. She can shoot the three, but when her three isn't falling, she can get to the basket and score."
Edwards has improved her defense enough that sometimes Morton assigns her to shut down the opponent's top scorer.
"I feel my game has improved from middle school because I can rely on my team now instead of people telling me to get the ball to score," said Edwards. "I finally learned how to play defense, because I would never play defense. I would just run and get to them and foul them. I really learned the concept of getting down in a stance and widening my feet."
After all, college recruiters from Boston College, East Carolina, Delaware and Virginia Commonwealth wouldn't be paying attention to Edwards if she didn't have a complete game.