Hakel does it all for Warriors

Sherando's Jess Hakel drives to the basket against Skyline on Dec. 12 in Front Royal. Hakel's versatility played a big part in Sherando's success this year. Rich Cooley/Daily file

STEPHENS CITY — If there’s one game that sums up how versatile Sherando’s Jess Hakel is, it has to be the Warriors’ 63-51 victory over Park View on February 11.

Hakel recorded her first career triple-double, something very rare for a high school player to achieve. The Sherando senior guard had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Hakel said of the triple-double. “They were the ones that helped me get that. They were able to score off of the passes. It meant a lot.”

Sherando coach Mike Marsh said she just missed, by one assist, a triple-double earlier in the season. Hakel did a little bit of everything for the Warriors this season.

The 5-foot-6 guard led the team in rebounding, was second in points, and led the entire area in assists per game. She said she enjoys getting assists, and helping her teammates score.

“I try to create opportunities to get my teammates the ball and give them open situations to score,” Hakel said. “It’s not a one-person game. I’ll do anything to give them the ball and give them a chance to score.”

Hakel, the Northern Virginia Daily’s 2015 Girls Basketball Player of the Year, finished her senior season averaging 13.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.8 steals per game.

“She understands the concept of team play,” Marsh said. “That might be my best compliment to her — that she’s the ultimate team player. She gets hers, but she gets hers because she gets everybody else theirs and she just gets the ball back in return. It’s never like she’s out there just trying just to make her own points.”

Marsh said that Hakel’s physical play and desire is part of the reason she was able to lead the team in rebounding despite being smaller than many players on the court.

Hakel also led the area in 3-point percentage (33.3, 21 for 63), something she worked hard at to attain. In her first three seasons with the Warriors, Hakel relied more on driving to the basket. In the offseason, Hakel decided she wanted to develop a long-range game, and the hard work paid off.

“She just wanted to be a better player, a more complete player,” Marsh said. “We talked about it and that she has a really good ability around the basket. She knows that. But to make her effective she had to have something outside to make defenders not slack off of her, but instead play her tight there.”

Certainly one of the biggest highlights for Hakel this season was reaching 1,000 career points. Hakel reached the milestone on Jan. 20 at home against Millbrook in a 68-56 defeat.

“That was very memorable,” Hakel said. “I’ll never forget that and to be able to share it with the great teammates I have meant a lot. The coaching staff was so supportive of me of achieving that. It was an awesome experience.”

Hakel has been steady and solid for the Warriors over the last four years, and it shows in the record books.

Hakel finished fourth all-time in school history with 1,180 points. She is the all-time leader in steals with 340, fourth in career assists (255) and tied for fourth in career 3-pointers (65).

She is one of four seniors for Sherando, and all of them started. Hakel, Heidi Brown, Erin Magalis and Audra Sites played at the varsity level for four years, and Hakel said she really enjoyed the bond they had together.

“They’re just a great group of girls to be playing with,” Hakel said. “We just know where each other will be on the court, and it’s just fun playing with them. It’s a lot of energy and excitement to play with them. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Hakel said she will be attending Potomac State University and playing basketball there next year. Marsh said Potomac State is a great fit for Hakel, and play a style similar to the Warriors.

Sherando finished the season 13-11, and lost a competitive Conference 21 semifinal game to a Loudoun County squad, which finished as conference champions. Hakel said she would have liked to gone further, but she still was very happy with the season the team had.

“This was just a great group of girls to play with,” Hakel said. “It was a fun season. I won’t forget it. Of course it would have been nice to move on further, but just the way things went I couldn’t have asked for a better team and a better season.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com