MEDFORD — Jackson Road is closed to through traffic for repairs. Delaney Jackson found other ways to navigate in Medford.
The Cherokee junior scored a team-high 11 points as Cherokee won the first edition of its Olympic Conference American Division set against Lenape 38-34. The scoring total is more than twice her season average and marks the first time she’s led the team in scoring for the game.
“Well, I definitely have been a little passive offensively,” Jackson said. “I knew today that I needed to come out strong and, yeah, I did.”
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Coach Ron Powell’s system as Cherokee relies on players who buy into playing aggressive, switching man defense for stretches of 30, 45 or more seconds at a stretch and even longer possessions on the other end of the floor. Cherokee plays positionless basketball relying on player who can recognize and, better yet, take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.
Jackson fits that bill, even if scoring isn’t always her first priority.
“We want Delaney to score,” Powell said. “I was glad to see her attack the basket tonight. We have to have some balance and I was really glad that Delaney attacked the basket in the first half. We ran some sets for and she took advantage of them.”
Jackson is a fierce defender, a deft passer and a reliable decision-maker. Those qualities are baked into her DNA.
“I love studying the game,” Jackson said. “I love watching film. I love learning whenever I can. I feel like I want to be able to help the next generation of players in the future.”
Jackson will play collegiate lacrosse at Loyola University in Maryland. Like many high school student-athletes, she hasn’t settled on what she’ll study. She does know where those studies, whatever they may turn out to be, will take her.
“My goal would be one day to coach,” Jackson said. “If I could coach college lacrosse that would be perfect.”
Lacrosse is her future. Basketball is more than just a hobby.
“As coaches, we all want that,” Powell said. “But you know, for whatever reason, kids and parents decide they're going to specialize these days. You know, we need more kids like Delaney. We really do.”
Jackson will transition to lacrosse in March. Hopefully, she a long playoff run will delay the crossover.
“I've always loved basketball,” Jackson said. “I feel like the sports are just like so similar like offense and defense. It kind of carries over. And yeah, I just love playing basketball.”
Tom Rimback, sports reporter
Tom Rimback grew up reading the Burlington County Times and Courier Post sports sections and began writing for the BCT in 1996. He has covered everything from Super Bowls and Final Fours to Tri-County Swimming but he’s happiest on a sideline interviewing South Jersey scholastic athletes for the Burlington County Times, the Courier Post and The Daily Journal. Follow him on twitter @RimbackBCT. Email him with story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org and, most importantly, support local journalism with a subscription.
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This article originally appeared on Burlington County Times: Junior Delaney Jackson steering Cherokee basketball success