By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STEPHENS CITY -- Sherando girls basketball coach Mike Marsh knows whenever junior guard Jess Hakel has the ball around the rim, there's a good chance his team is about to score.
Marsh said one of Hakel's best traits is her ability to make layups.
"She finds a way to get to the rim, and she has an uncanny ability to make layups," Marsh said. "Everyone on the team knows when Jess [Hakel] gets around the rim, there's a good chance the ball's going to go in.
"It gives us a chance that anytime we get the ball around the rim to her, she's going to score."
Hakel did more than just score in Sherando's only game last week, an 88-55 win over Washington (W.Va.). Hakel had 17 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Hakel said she believes it may have been her first career double-double.
Her outstanding performance helped Hakel become The Northern Virginia Daily's Female Athlete of the Week for the week of Feb. 9-15.
"I was excited about my double-double, but my teammates helped me get in position to do that," Hakel said. "I couldn't have done it without them."
The 88 points was a season-high for the Warriors, who are playing some of their best basketball at the end of the season.
"We came out really aggressive," Hakel said of the win over Washington. "We moved the ball really well and we attacked it and we ran the floor. And we just played a really great game as a team. Everyone was hitting their shots. We've been shooting a lot in practice, and we came out and we were on fire that night."
Hakel started off the season really well, but said she went into a little slump midway through the season. Hakel said she looked at some tapes of some games from early in the season and it helped her to get out of the slump.
Marsh said Hakel has rose to the occasion at just the right time for the Warriors.
"Other girls were playing well around her. She didn't need to score, but then all of the sudden when we needed her again -- she found it. And that was awesome," Marsh said. "I think probably the last five or six games she's been like a machine. It's not like she's putting 28, 30 points up, it's consistently 16, 17, 18 points. When you can rely on that every night, that gives the other girls confidence."
Hakel is averaging 12 points per game. She is also averaging 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 3.4 steals per game. She is also shooting 50.9 percent (81 for 109) from the field.
Marsh said Hakel is also versatile on the floor.
"She does a lot of the small things that make us good," Marsh said. "She handles the ball. When Erin [Magalis] goes out, she takes over the point. If we have a bigger kid we got to defend, she defends the bigger kids. She does all the little things very well."
The Warriors (13-6) are playing in the Conference 21 tournament this week, and the team is hoping that they can win a couple games and advance to next week's regional tournament.
"We know what we're bringing to the table," Marsh said. "We have our style, and we're going to make everybody play our style. We're not going to change what we do for anybody. They're going to have to keep up with us running. It's going to be pressure defense, whether it's pressing in the full court or man-[to-man] in the half court. They better have their running shoes on because we're going to try to do our game."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd