Number 12 synonymous with hustle

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 20, 2004

Heather Lifsey

LASKER – When Number 12 for the Northeast Academy Lady Eagles stepped on the court; she played with the same hustle and determination if there were 12 minutes or 12 seconds in the game.

She displayed the same fight and desire, whether her team was up by 12 or down by 20.

That drive is one characteristic that earned Shannon Jenkins 941 points over a 3-year varsity career.

The hustle on offense and defense didn’t go unnoticed as she earned a spot on the Carolina Athletic Conference (CAC) All Conference and All Tournament teams for three consecutive years.

While Jenkins basketball prowess was well known in Eastern North Carolina, this year the state recognized her talent.

In February, Jenkins was one of the players named to the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA) All-State team.

&uot;I couldn’t believe it at first when mama told me,&uot; said Jenkins, who learned of the honor as her Lady Eagles prepared for their second round tournament game against second-seeded Gaston Day.

&uot;I never imagined being categorized with the people that make that team,&uot; added Jenkins, the daughter of Jay and Teresa Jenkins of Woodland.

The honor was the culmination of a career that started in the backyard and developed in elementary physical education class.

&uot;Miss Joella (Brown) made Hunter and I play each other because we’d push each other,&uot; Jenkins said, referring to fellow senior Hunter Harrell.

We’ve been playing on opposite teams since second grade,&uot; Jenkins continued.

&uot;In practice this year, Hunter would guard me because he’d push me and I’d push back just as hard.&uot;

Jenkins also had a unique opportunity during her basketball career – playing with her twin sister, Melissa.

&uot;There were times I’d throw the ball and she’s just there because we have that connection.

We can almost read each other’s minds,&uot; Jenkins said.

&uot;You would watch Shannon work with Melissa and see things and think ‘How would she know Melissa was there?’&uot; Lady Eagles head coach Joella Brown said.

&uot;We push each other,&uot; Jenkins said of her sister.

&uot;At times, I would tell her what she should have done and vice versa.

You’re more likely to say what you really feel to your sibling.&uot;

As for sibling rivalry on the court, &uot;there is a little bit,&uot; Jenkins admitted.

&uot;But we push each other more than anything.&uot;

That push, in addition to her natural drive, has made Jenkins a versatile player.

&uot;Coaches like players that are willing to work hard and do what’s best for the team,&uot; Brown said.

&uot;She can adapt to whatever style, play or role I ask her to take.&uot;

Another strength Jenkins possess is that &uot;she’s not looking for recognition,&uot; according to Brown, and Jenkins’ father agrees.

&uot;Shannon never kept up with her stats,&uot; her father said.

&uot;She only cared about winning.

She would come home after a game and talk about what went right and what needed to be improved before the next game.&uot;

One win that will stay with Jenkins is this year’s win over conference rival Hobgood on Senior Night.

&uot;We played Hobgood two or three days before and lost.

We were pumped up because it was senior night and our last home ball game,&uot; Jenkins explained.

&uot;The momentum of the crowd was great and we finished the regular season with a win on our floor.&uot;

That win capped off a career that has seen Jenkins grow as a player and a person.

According to Brown, &uot;I have watched Shannon develop from a consistent contributor to a major player.

She became someone the other team had to focus on stopping which created openings for other team members.&uot;

Other coaches agree.

Lawrence Academy Head Coach Gennia Winslow said, &uot;With a player like that, we tried to put our best defensive player on her and not let that one player beat us.&uot;

&uot;With a player that good, she has the ability to take the shot when she needs, or she knows when to dish it out,&uot; Winslow added.

&uot;She’s just a team player.&uot;

The style of basketball Northeast plays creates a need for versatile players like Jenkins.

&uot;One night, we may play an up-tempo or a slowed down game that asks for Shannon to play defense and hand off assists,&uot; Brown explained.

&uot;The next night we may need her to be the scorer and pull down rebounds.&uot;

Basketball has helped Jenkins off the court as well.

&uot;I’ve learned patience,&uot; Jenkins said.

&uot;I’ve learned I have to control my emotions and temper.

On the court, I try not to show fear because other people can sense it.

If they can’t see it, they can’t tear you apart as much.

&uot;I’ve also learned teamwork and that I have to depend on other people to help,&uot; she added.

&uot;Each year it is interesting to watch the different role Shannon played with each team,&uot; Brown said.

&uot;This year, with Shannon being a senior, we needed a leader.&uot;

This year’s team is the one Jenkins will remember the most.

&uot;We’ve been playing together since I was in the ninth grade and have gotten close.

My teammates have made me better by challenging me.&uot;

Many of her teammates on the basketball court are also on the softball field with Jenkins, who pitches for the Lady Eagles.

In addition, Jenkins is vice-president of the BETA club, president of the Student Council, yearbook photographer, a member of the French Club and a senior class officer.

Of all her accomplishments, Jenkins can’t point to one that means the most.

&uot;What I’m most proud of is being recognized for doing something well.&uot;

Of the teammates she’s leaving behind, Jenkins said her advice would be &uot;Not to give up and listen to the coach.&uot;

&uot;She (Brown) didn’t let us get away with anything.

She pushed us to our limit and in the long run made us all better players,&uot; Jenkins said.

And what does Jenkins hope Northeast spectators remember about her?

&uot;I hope they remember that no matter how far ahead or behind my team was, I played the same and that I never gave up.&uot;