Jackson hopes experience leads to successful year | Girls basketball

Timberwolves are excited about their strong junior class
By David Pan | Jan 05, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan Jackson’s Olivia Skibiel (right) brings the ball up the court against Shorecrest’s Julia Strand during a non-conference game Wednesday, Dec. 6, at Jackson High School.

All the pieces are coming together for the Jackson girls basketball team.

The Timberwolves bring back their most experienced group of players in Duane Morris’ three-year tenure as head coach.

Jackson graduated only one senior starter from last year’s district playoff team and four players – juniors Olivia Skibiel, Lauren Schillberg, Megan Mattison and Alexa Martin – who either started or saw significant playing time are back. Add a couple of seniors in Sydney Carter and Jadyn Kinchen and the Wolfpack figure to be right in the district playoff mix again.

“We’re excited about moving forward on a good trajectory as far as where we started the first year leading up to now,” Morris said. “We’re seeing the improvement that we’d expect from everyone. Many of them put in a lot of work during the offseason. It’s exciting to see the improvement that’s happened as a result.”

Jackson currently is 3-1 in the Wesco 4A with victories over Monroe, Mount Vernon and Cascade and a loss to Glacier Peak. Though the offense is not designed to revolve around one person, Skibiel consistently has been the leading scorer for the Wolfpack. She put up 21 points in Jackson’s 49-24 victory over Cascade in the first game of the New Year on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

“She’s doing fantastic,” Morris said. “She’s doing everything you could ask of her. It’s not necessarily that we’re going to anyone in particular. … We seek to involve everybody. We don’t want to rely on one person. As things have gone, a lot of things have fallen to her. She’s proved she can handle it.”

Morris noted that Jackson has other capable scorers and height that many teams are hard-pressed to match. Skibiel is 6-foot-1, Schillberg is 6-2, Mattison is 5-11 and Martin is 5-10.

“We’re really giving a good effort on defense and caring about that,” Morris said. “We’ve been sharing the ball for sure. We have really good ball movement.”

Jackson showed some of that balanced offensive attack in the 63-46 loss to the Grizzlies. Skibiel led the Timberwolves with 18 points and Martin had 10. Kinchen and Carter each contributed 7 points.

“It shows that if they double one person, we still have other options,” Carter said.

Jackson struggled from the field, connecting on only 5 of 22 shots in the first half and 16 of 49 overall.

“It really came down to our shooting percentage in that game,” Skibiel said. “Every team is going to have that kind of a game. The next time we play them we need to focus on hitting our shots because we took really good shots. They weren’t falling that day.”

The Wolfpack also had some defensive breakdowns against Glacier Peak, Morris added. “We just didn’t take advantage of our opportunities. We’re going to get better and better at taking advantage of the opportunities that we get and understanding how important they are. It was a good learning process and gets us ready for the rest of the year.”

Many of the juniors have been on varsity since their freshman season. All that playing time makes a difference on the court.

“I think our team chemistry is a lot better and we’re all trying to work together,” Skibiel said. “We’re playing hard for each other.”

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