Jenkins ready to lead way for Rams in senior season

Strasburg's Kelsey Jenkins fires a 3-point shot during a game last year against William Monroe. Jenkins will look to lead the way for the Rams again this season. Rich Cooley/Daily file

STRASBURG – Last season things really began to click for Strasburg’s Kelsey Jenkins.

The senior point guard’s game took off to another level as she led the Rams in scoring and was second in assists.

“I think last year I started scoring more. I think I started penetrating more, and I started passing the ball around looking for more shots,” Jenkins said. “I got my shot on last year, and I’m just working on that this year, too. Improving my shot and driving the lane and creating shots for myself and for my teammates.”

Jenkins’ dad, Darin, who is also in his first year as Strasburg’s coach, said that he saw a big jump in Kelsey’s game after the Rams beat Central in the Bull Run District tournament in her sophomore year heading into her junior season.

“I think she realized that she needed to be that leader,” Darin Jenkins said. “She needed to be that one that the team looked to when they needed a good possession, maybe they needed a bucket, maybe they needed a stop. I think finally the light switch came on, and she realized that ‘hey, it’s my turn to do that.’

“I think that’s been the biggest improvement of her game is just leadership and being a good leader on the floor.”

Darin Jenkins said that’s the biggest thing he’s looking for from Kelsey this season, which starts on Tuesday, is to continue being that leader on the floor.

Kelsey Jenkins said that she began playing basketball when she was 5 and she’s always loved playing the game.

She’s also played on Amateur Athletic Union teams since her fifth grade year. The summer before her freshman year of high school, she played for the Winchester Rising Stars and the team advanced to the national tournament in Orlando, finishing 16th in the country.

“It was a really good experience going down there,” Kelsey Jenkins said. “Playing against teams from all across the country, and seeing different kinds of people and just meeting new people.”

This past year Kelsey Jenkins joined some of her old teammates from her first AAU team — the Shenandoah County Wave. Some of her teammates included Central’s Cianne Fields, Meredith Phillips and Brooklyn Pumphrey.

Kelsey Jenkins said it’s nice playing with players from other teams — even her school’s biggest rival.

“It’s fun playing with them and it’s fun playing against them,” Jenkins said. “You just have to remember that you guys are still friends off the court, but you take it seriously on the court and hope to win for your team.”

Last year Strasburg went 12-12, losing to Luray in the first round of the Conference 35 tournament.

One of the biggest changes for the Rams is a new coach with Darin Jenkins replacing Joel Morgan, who stepped down at the end of last season. Kelsey said she’s enjoying having her dad, who she said coached her when she was younger, coaching her again.

“I like it. I feel like he’s definitely harder on me and he’s pushed me more, and I need that in practice,” Kelsey Jenkins said. “I know that he’s going to get on me when he needs to get on me. I need to learn to just know that he’s trying to make me better and not take it personally because he is my dad.”

Kelsey Jenkins said that being a senior she realizes this is her last year of high school basketball and she wants to make the most of it. She said it helps knowing that she will be playing basketball next year at Randolph College.

“When I visited the campus, I visited the team and the coach and they made me feel really welcome,” Kelsey Jenkins said of her decision to go to Randolph. “I loved being on the campus. I loved the feel of the campus, and I felt like I could spend the next four years there.”

With one last season at Strasburg, Kelsey Jenkins said she wants the Rams to go further in the playoffs than they have in a while.

“I think our biggest goal this year is making it to regionals, making it past the first game in conference because we haven’t done that at all,” she said. “I think that’s our biggest goal this year, and I think we can do it this year — just advance to regionals.”

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