Aliya Jackson, South Iredell's power forward and team captain, has been a force for the Vikings.
In South Iredell's first 20 games, Jackson recorded 18 double-doubles, making her the leading rebounder and the No. 2 scorer in the 2A Catawba Valley Conference.
The junior already pulled down 296 rebounds, an average of 14.8 a game. She's also contributing 16.3 points a night for the Vikings.
South Iredell coach Michael Fisher credits hard work and determination to Jackson's improved numbers.
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"She has a tremendous knack for knowing where the ball is at and the drive to go get it," said Fisher. "She works so hard, both offensively and defensively, and does it game after game."
Jackson has been making a name for herself since she first stepped on the South Iredell campus nearly three years ago.
Jackson averaged 11.5 points a game as a freshman before scoring 12.2 points per contest her sophomore season. She also averaged 11.1 rebounds last season. Jackson, who's 5-foot-8 and is rarely the tallest player in the post, has set a torrid pace in the rebounding department.
"She honestly plays like she is a foot taller," said Fisher. "To compare her to someone, it would be like comparing her to former NBA player Dennis Rodman. He competed against players taller and bigger every night, but knew how to get the ball and out-rebound them: that's what Aliya does. She knows how to position herself and get the rebound."
Offensively, Jackson can also knock down the 10-12 foot jump-shot, making her a threat to score not only inside, but outside as well.
"She adds so much value to our team in so many ways," said Fisher. "Defenses sometimes are forced to double-team her and then that in return opens someone up. We can also use her as a decoy. When she touches the ball, the defense will collapse on her and then Jackson can just kick it back out to the open shooter."
Hard work has seemed to pay off for Jackson, who spent much of this past summer working on her game, which included help and input from her father, Ricky.
"We worked on a lot of stuff during the off-season," said Jackson. "My dad showed me some post moves and some tricks to rebounding. We worked on inside moves, how to get into rebounding position and defensive drills. We pretty much worked on everything, which has really made me a better all-around player."
Jackson's highlight games so far this season came against Forbush, when she grabbed 28 rebounds, and Maiden, which she scored 25 points against.
"Words really are not enough to describe her value to the team," said Fisher. "The other girls respect her and she is just a very positive attribute to the team."
Jackson said she is comfortable playing whatever role the team needs her to.
"Basically if I see something that we're not doing on the court, then I'm going to try to do everything I can to do it," Jackson said. "Whatever I need to do to help the team win."
South Iredell (8-12, 4-7 as of Feb. 6) hasn't seen as many wins as it would have liked this season, losing several games by single digits. One of the main reasons was set backs caused by key injuries on the squad, including to starting point guard Elexus Burby, who was injured in the Holiday Tournament. She played only seven games this season.
But Fisher feels good things are on the horizon.
"We can make a push for the conference championship next season," said Fisher. "We got off to a bit of a rough start ... but the future looks really bright."