Getting her high school basketball career started has been a real challenge for Rich East sophomore Jada Banks.
A promising shooting guard at Huth Middle School in Matteson, she had to sit out her entire freshman season because she was an inter-district transfer student from Rich Central.
Then, when Rich East’s point guard had to miss the first five games of this season’s campaign with an ankle injury, Banks was moved from her natural position to fill the void.
“She embraced the challenge and did a great job,” Rockets coach Jonnie Bass said. “Now she’s back in the spot that she’s comfortable with.”
And she’s a double-digit success, averaging 11 points and four rebounds per game for the Rockets, who improved to 4-4 Saturday with a 43-39 victory over Lincoln-Way North.
Banks is an honor roll student at Rich East who also plays volleyball and softball.
“Jada is an important component to our team,” Bass said. “Last year knowing that she couldn’t play, she showed up for every practice and every game. She was committed and worked hard to stay in shape and to learn the Lady Rocket system.
“I’m expecting great things from her in the next three years.”
Last season Shayla Joyner was a sixth player for Hillcrest, coming off the bench to average 7.3 points per game and earning honorable mention in the South Suburban Blue.
This year Joyner is one of the leaders for a rebuilding Hawks team that entered the week at 6-3 overall and 3-0 in conference.
Through nine games the 5-foot-10 senior center is averaging 10.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. In a 60-32 victory Thursday over Argo, she just missed a double-double with nine points and nine boards.
“She’s a strong inside offensive presence, a capable ballhandler and a force on the boards,” Hillcrest coach John Maniatis said. “Shayla has all the tools to be successful at the next level.”
Player of the Week
LaTondra Brooks, of Oak Lawn, is the SouthtownStar Girls Basketball Player of the Week.
Brooks, a senior guard, had 16 points, seven assists and three steals in a 66-40 win over Tinley Park, 11 points, seven rebounds and four steals in a 62-23 victory over Lemont and 18 points, five assists and four steals as the Spartans toppled De La Salle 64-39.