“The liberty to live for self alone becomes in time a weary bondage.” — Florence L. Barclay, “The Rosary”
You could see the frustration on her face.
After another mindboggling turnover on an errant pass in her direction, JaQuan Jackson turned to Lady Knights head coach Shirretha Nelson and threw her arms up in exasperation.
Usually, when the mild-mannered Jackson is upset, it’s because her shot isn’t falling.
That wasn’t the case Monday night, as the Harker Heights senior scoring guard had a season-high 40 points, dropping five 3-pointers in the first quarter of a 73-63 loss to visiting Victoria Metro of Melbourne, Australia.
The score, of course, wasn’t indicative of how lopsided the “exhibition” game really was.
Vic Metro, an organizational boys and girls club team with many players from Melbourne, made its first stop along a 21-day, five-city tour around the country, with a stop in Temple on Tuesday before heading to North Carolina, New York and California.
The globetrotting Aussies had both a height and discipline advantage that will continue to plague the Lady Knights this season.
But, while Vic Metro owned the backboards with three players 6-foot-3 or taller, Heights had one advantage — Jackson and her ability to jack up (and make) shots from all over the court.
The problem for Harker Heights was Jackson might as well have been playing 5-on-1 because hardly anyone else was contributing.
She voiced her frustration in a postgame interview.
“Sometimes you have to step up and sometimes you don’t, but I needed somebody (else) to step up tonight,” Jackson said. “Coming back (this season), it’s like all the weight’s on me, and it’s cool … but somebody just has to step up.”
So far this season, Jackson might as well be Michael Jordan with the weight of the Lady Knights’ scoring responsibilities falling heavily on her shoulders. Much like MJ during his heyday in Chicago, Jackson is being asked to be “the player” and is solely responsible for putting points on the board for Heights.
But even Jordan had help.
Jackson needs a Scottie Pippen, but the closest potential aide is sitting on the bench, recovering from the second of two ACL surgeries in six months.
It was determined before the season that 6-foot senior Brianna Freeman — who signed to play Division I ball at the University of New Mexico last month — to sit out the season rather than potentially re-injure herself a third time.
So far, no one has emerged to fill the hole left by her absence. But there are options. Sophomore point guard Alexus Dukes was a dynamic scorer in middle school and showed flashes last season off the bench. Dukes was Heights’ second-leading scorer Monday with 12 points, including a 3-pointer in the second quarter that pulled Heights into a tie at 33 with 1½ minutes left in the first half.
Then there’s junior guard Angela Delaney, who clearly has the skill to step up and be a secondary scoring option, but she’s yet to become that player.
If the Lady Knights are going to avoid a colossal fall from grace following a 35-win campaign a year ago, it’s going to require someone stepping up to assist Jackson. She can’t do it alone. Otherwise, frustration will be the only thing reciprocated on the court this season.
Contact Alex Byington at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7566