Jenkins gets her shot back on track to lead Rams

Kelsey Jenkins

STRASBURG – Kelsey Jenkins was struggling a little with her shot early this season, but last week everything clicked for the Strasburg senior.

Jenkins got her shot back on track and had a combined 42 points in two games to lead the Rams.

“I didn’t have much confidence in it early this season, but Tommy Simmons really helped me in practice get my shot back on,” Jenkins said. “My teammates have been really great with moving the ball, passing me the ball and working together and they’ve really helped me out.”

Simmons, who is an assistant track and field coach at Strasburg, comes in for about 30 minutes each day at practice and works with the players on shooting. Jenkins said he helped her a lot with her shot.

“A lot of times I leave my guide hand on the ball too long,” Jenkins said. “Tommy’s a great coach with shooting. He knows a lot about it. He worked with me in practice for like a half an hour, and he just got my shot back on and gave me all the confidence.”

It showed in Strasburg’s 57-31 victory over Rappahannock County on Dec. 16. Jenkins had 28 points, five assists and four steals.

Her strong effort helped her earn The Northern Virginia Daily’s Female Athlete of the Week for the week of Dec. 14-20.

“She missed her first two (shots) and then she hit the third one, and it just seemed to start falling after that,” said Strasburg girls basketball coach Darin Jenkins, who is also Kelsey’s dad. “I think with Kelsey a lot of times it is all about confidence. Once she starts seeing them start to go, then it just builds.”

Kelsey Jenkins said she enjoys shooting, especially the mid-range jumper. The 5-foot-2 point guard said that due to her size it’s the easiest shot for her to get off and she’s worked hard on it.

Even though she’s generally one of the smallest players on the court Kelsey Jenkins said she enjoys being her height and the challenge of going up against bigger players.

“I like being shorter. It has made me work harder,” Kelsey Jenkins said. “When you’re a lot smaller and you are scoring a lot more I think it’s more rewarding.”

Her scoring continued in Strasburg’s 61-37 loss to William Monroe on Dec. 18. She had 14 points, including 10 in the first half.

The Dragons switched to a box-and-one on Kelsey Jenkins in the second half to slow her down.

Another aspect of the game that she said she enjoys is playing defense, which is something that the whole team focuses on every day in practice.

“I think you work harder on defense than you do on offense,” Kelsey Jenkins said. “It means more on defense getting a steal and having a fastbreak layup than it does on offense. I like playing defense. I think that’s how we win most of our games, and that’s how we stay in most of our games because of our defense.”

Kelsey Jenkins followed up her strong week last week with 25 points on Monday in Strasburg’s 60-45 victory over Moorefield.

The win over Rappahannock County was Strasburg’s first this season, and Kelsey Jenkins said that it was a big one for the team.

“That was our first win, and I think we were really hungry for a win,” she said. “It’s been a while. I think once we got there and we started working together, we realized that we can win and work as a team. I think that’s when it really started roiling. I think that’s when we realized that we are a good team.”

The Rams (2-5) have lost some close games, and they’ve had trouble finishing strong in games. They were only trailing William Monroe by one at the half and by eight and the end of the third quarter.

Darin Jenkins said that part of the problem has been lack of depth and inexperience on their bench. Strasburg has four freshmen and six sophomores on the squad.

Kelsey Jenkins said that she has seen improvement in the younger players and it will just take time for them to get adjusted to the varsity level.

“I think they come to practice and they work hard every single day and they want to get better,” Kelsey Jenkins said. “I know it’s going to take some time because they are so young, but they’ve shown a lot more improvement. They’ve showed they want to score, and they work hard on defense, which is what we need.”

She said that she still believes the team will have plenty of success this season.

“I think we’ll start winning some games,” Kelsey Jenkins said. “I think it’s just going to take some time. I think we’ll win a couple games when we’re not supposed to win games, and I think we’re getting better.”

Kelsey Jenkins, along with Carey Scott and Haley Bischoff are the only starters returning from last year’s squad, and Jenkins and Scott are two of only three seniors on the team. Kelsey Jenkins said she’s trying to be a good leader for the team, especially with so many younger players.

“I’ve been on the team since freshman year and I guess just being a senior you have the most experience. I’ve been playing the game for a long time, so I know a lot about the game and I like helping other people out,” Kelsey Jenkins said. “I like giving them advice, especially the younger ones, because I think they do look up to the seniors the older girls a lot.

“I like being a senior and having a leadership role and helping them out.”

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