It’s not surprising when Jamari McDavid beats opposing players to the other end of court. Even her Kenton Ridge High School teammates can’t keep up with the freshman.
“It helps a lot,” said McDavid, a standout sprinter/long jumper for the Springfield Track Club last summer. “All the other centers, they’re all bigger than me. They move slower than I do. I get the ball and they can’t keep up.”
Few teams have kept up with the Cougars (20-1) this season.
McDavid’s free throw with 0.9 seconds left on Saturday was the difference in a 63-62 sweep of host Tippecanoe that clinched an outright Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Division title. Kenton Ridge also won the first matchup, 54-52.
Kenton Ridge will close out the regular season at Graham today. At 7:30 p.m. on Thursday the top-seeded Cougars begin Division II sectional play against No. 12 seed Shawnee at Tecumseh.
At 5-feet-9, McDavid often looks up to opposing front liners. Then the bumping, positioning and running begins. Advantage, Cougars.
McDavid looks like she’s spent most of her teen years in a weight room. Not so, she said. Instead, she credits her father, former North football standout C.J. McDavid, for the DNA boost. C.J. parlayed an Arena Football League career into a spot on the Miami Dolphins practice squad.
“I inherited (the muscular physique),” she said. “I don’t go to the gym and lift weights at all. Sometimes I do push ups at practice.”
That’s good enough for an appreciative Cougars head coach Ed Foulk.
“She gives us an impact on post players inside,” Foulk said. “Even though she’s 5-9, she plays like she’s 6-foot or more.
“I’ve had no girl ever touch the rim and she’s about two inches from touching. She even tried to dunk it the other day.”
Jamari’s bruising inside play forces teams to defensively collapse on her. That creates open shots for the Cougars’ bombers. Sydney Bates, Baylee Bennett, Stefanie Davis and Sara Thornton all average between 16.1 and 10.3 points. McDavid is at 9.2 points and 7.5 rebounds.
As a graduated eighth-grader Jamari had summer AAU bests of 12.50 in the 100 meters, 17-2 in the long jump and 59.0 in the 400. She left Emmanuel Christian and enrolled at Kenton Ridge prior to this school year.
If she remains healthy her projected times and distances would place her among the state’s best in high school track and field. For now, seeking an elusive state basketball title is the focus.
“My goal is to try and take the basketball team all the way to state and try to win it,” she said.
KENTON RIDGE GIRLS HOOP
Final regular-season game: Today at Graham.
D-II tourney opener: Thursday vs. Shawnee at Tecumseh
Sydney Bates 16.1
Baylee Bennett 13.0
Stefanie Davis 11.5
Sara Thornton 10.3
Jamari McDavid 9.2