PARK RIDGE — The New Trier girls basketball team dropped its second game of the season Friday at Maine South, but Trevians junior Jackie Welch showcased many qualities that make her a valuable member of one of the area’s top teams.
Trevians coach Teri Rodgers said Welch’s defense and energy in the third quarter and early fourth were instrumental as the Trevians (20-2 overall, 7-1 CSL South) overturned a 9-point deficit with a 14-0 run.
Welch deflected a few passes during the span and forced the Hawks into a double-dribble. On the other end, the 5-foot-10 forward knocked down a 3-pointer that started New Trier’s big run.
“She really energizes us in terms of her defense,” Rodgers said. “That really ups everybody’s intensity. Her energy is contagious, and she gets deflections and steals.”
Perhaps it’s fitting that Welch would be a defensive asset. She was an all-conference central defender on the Trevians’ soccer team last spring.
Welch, playing her second year of varsity basketball, said there are similarities between the sports.
“The two sports work out well with each other, which you might not think, hands and feet,” Welch said. “But playing defense in soccer helps so much in basketball, and the other way around. Footwork is the key in both sports. They do mesh well.”
On a basketball team with scorers like senior sharpshooter Alexa Czyzynski and sophomore post Jeannie Boehm, Welch’s offensive contribution often comes in the form of opportunistic buckets and assists.
She has had big offensive performances in important games this season, scoring 14 in a 72-56 win over Loyola on Nov. 22, 2013, and 12 in a 43-37 triumph over Glenbrook South on Jan. 10.
Welch said she has been more assertive shooting from the outside this season, but she remains most comfortable looking for open teammates.
“I’m shooting more. I was more timid to shoot last year and would stick to driving to the basket,” she said. “But I love assisting. That’s like my favorite thing on the team. I love keeping my head up and looking for people who are more open than I am. I like making the extra pass.”
Though Welch is not a captain, Rodgers considers the team’s No. 14 a leader.
Welch said her leadership philosophy is not based on raising her voice. Instead, it’s about lending an ear and remaining upbeat.
“I try to listen more than speak a lot of the time,” Welch said. “We have so many people on this team who have so many good ideas. I also try to stay positive. Negative energy does not work for our team. It pulls everybody down. I try to keep us up and going. You’ll always hear encouragement from me.”