Carlynton senior Meredith provides heart of girls basketball team
Carlynton girls basketball coach Tim Bonner said his squad's box scores can be a bit deceiving.
Sure, names like Conor Richardson and Jordan Melko are regularly listed as players scoring in double digits. But what isn't listed is the role that senior forward Jazmyn Meredith plays night-in and night-out.
“What people don't realize she is the heart and soul of the team.” Bonner said. “Our defense is pretty tough, and she is the one in the middle communicating with everyone. She is the glue of this team.
“We have some pretty good basketball players, but you need the glue to keep them together.”
Meredith's biggest role on the team is the presence she provides in the paint. If the Cougars need someone to come up with a big rebound on either side of the court, Meredith is usually the player who steps up.
It is a role she has filled for the last four seasons and she couldn't enjoy it more.
“I love battling in the paint for the rebound,” Meredith said. “Without rebounds you cannot win a game.”
Her presence under the basket has been a constant for Carlynton over the last four seasons when stability wasn't always guaranteed. As a freshman, Meredith was on the Cougars squad that went 12-10 under the guidance of Cayll Smith One year later, Rich Griffin took over the program and led the team to another 12-10 season.
When Meredith was a junior, the team had its third coach in as many seasons when Bonner took over the program. But the veteran coach came in and provided a much needed foundation for the team. After reaching the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons in 2012-13, the team carried the momentum into this year and has reached a 15-3 mark.
The years of work paid off last week as the Cougars captured their first section title since the 2004-05 season with a 65-25 win over Freedom.
“I would have never expected this my freshman year,” Meredith said. “To see where we were when I was in ninth grade to now and the fact I am leaving as a section champion is incredible. It is the most amazing feeling.”
But the many highs Meredith and the Cougars are reaching this season haven't come without lows. The team's only other senior — guard Hannah Murray — was lost for the season to a torn ACL that required surgery. As big of a blow as it was to the team, it was particularly hard for Meredith who described Murray as her partner in crime.
“She has been my best friend since third grade,” Meredith said. “We played together every year. She always suited up right next to me. It was a hard loss on and off the court. I want her to be out there with me.”
While the team was stunned by the loss of Murray, Bonner felt relief in having a senior like Meredith on the roster.
“When we lost (Murray), I thanked my lucky stars we had (Meredith),” Bonner said. “She isn't afraid to step up and say, ‘Let's get it done.' I have a lot of faith in her to make the right calls defensively.”
With Section 6-AA in hand, the Cougars look to continue their success in the postseason. While the team is feeling confident heading into the playoffs, it knows it cannot take any opponent for granted.
“We're confident, not cocky,” Meredith said. “We have the confidence to take us into the playoffs and drive us to win. It will be a challenge, but we're ready to work hard.”
Carlynton wraps up its Section 6-AA schedule with a trip to Sto-Rox tonight, Thursday. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.