By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW SITE – Anybody who watched the fourth quarter of last season’s Class 2A state tournament championship game between New Site and Newton saw Krystal Jackson at her best.
New Site’s powerful 5-foot-10 guard scored 14 of her team-high 29 points in the final period – mostly on hard drives to the basket – before fouling out in an attempt to rally the Lady Royals.
“She put us on her back,” New Site coach Byron Sparks said moments after his team came up short, 77-73, at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Jackson returns for her senior season as the lone starter from a team that finished 31-2.
“What she did in the state tournament is what she’ll be doing for us this season,” Sparks said. “We’ll count on her to do more scoring. We had other kids around her last year who could put up big numbers.”
Jackson, however, knows she’ll get plenty of help, scoring and otherwise, from her teammates.
“These girls could have played last year, we just didn’t need them,” she said. “I think we’ll have a lot quicker lineup this year. I’ll continue my role of taking care of the ball in tight situations, the same as last year.”
Jackson’s main assistance will come from sophomore guard Christy Clark, a key sixth man last season, and Belmont transfer Morgan Pearson, a 5-11 forward.
“The key for us will be teamwork,” Jackson said. “We have good chemistry.”
Jackson was named one the state’s top 12 players in the preseason after averaging 18.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.5 steals as a junior.
Her performance on the state tournament stage contributed to her preseason honor.
“It’s kind of overwhelming when people look at you as a top 12 player in the state,” she said. “A lot of my success has to do with my teammates. I wouldn’t look as good without them.”
Sparks isn’t surprised to hear Jackson crediting her teammates for her success.
“She’s the ultimate team player,” he said. “She could have averaged 25 points last season. Bottom line is she doesn’t care if she averages five points as long as we win.
“She’s competitive. She’ll do whatever we need her to do.”