May 22, 2010 11:44:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- Jameika Hoskins admits she doesn''t talk much.
While other players slap teammates on the back and create a lot of noise on the court, Hoskins takes a stealthier approach.
The Aberdeen High School senior guard/forward always has preferred to let her playing do the talking.
This season, Hoskins continued to become more of a vocal presence and a leader on the court. Those qualities helped her lead the team in scoring (21.7 points per game) and to a 24-3 record.
"When you''re a vocal player you''re a great player," Hoskins said. "I think that is one of the things I was lacking over the other years."
For her accomplishments this season, Hoskins is The Commercial Dispatch Small Schools Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Aberdeen reached Jackson last year and saw its season end to eventual Class 3A state champion Raymond. But most people at the game, including the Raymond coach and players, felt Aberdeen had made significant strides from the 2007-08 season, when Raymond easily eliminated Aberdeen.
That''s why the 2009-10 campaign was filled with anticipation that maybe this season, especially with Raymond moving up to Class 4A after the state''s reclassification, would be the one when Aberdeen could win a Class 3A title.
But Ripley''s 55-51 victory against Aberdeen in the second round of the North Half State playoffs shattered those dreams. Despite the disappointment, Hoskins took pride in everything she helped the volleyball and girls basketball teams achieve.
"My senior year has been great," said Hoskins, who was named The Commercial Dispatch''s All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year. "It started out good with volleyball and making it farther than we did the other seasons. With basketball, we were ready for the state part. It didn''t end too well."
Aberdeen''s volleyball team beat St. Andrew''s in the opening round of the Class I North Half State tournament before nearly beating Center Hill in the second round.
In girls basketball, Hoskins felt she took several steps as a player and as a leader. She said she played through a shoulder injury she suffered two games prior to the game against Ripley. She also feels she learned more of what she will have to do as a lead-by-example and as a vocal contributor.
"I can do many things if I put my mind to it," Hoskins said.
Aberdeen High School girls basketball coach Latorrence Bivens said this past season was the best of Hoskins'' five-year varsity career. He said her decision-making allowed her to make the transition from her role as a primary ballhandler to a wing player.
Bivens also said the position change helped Hoskins become tougher.
"Jameika is a wonderful player," Bivens said. "She listens and wants to get better. All she wanted to know was what she needed to do and she did it without hesitation."
Bivens said Hoskins improved this season the most on defense. He said he didn''t have to get on to Hoskins to play defense in part because he said she recognized she was someone who set the tone for the team.
In fact, Bivens said he saw Hoskins speak up during timeouts and encourage teammates. He said that leadership was important to helping the Lady Bulldogs overcome tough stretches.
"One of her biggest problems was she always knew what was wrong but she never opened her mouth and said it," Bivens said. "As the year went on she was able to say things. The key is not what you say but how you say it. When she said things the team listened and they just followed her."
Hoskins originally decided to play basketball at Alcorn State in Lorman, but she reconsidered that choice and last month signed a letter of intent to play at Itawamba Community College.
Bivens believes that step will help Hoskins become the player he knows she can be. He said Hoskins will be able to shine and that her competitiveness and enthusiasm for the game will come out easier having family and friends close by to support her.
Hoskins said her senior girls basketball season was a first step toward becoming even more of a vocal presence on the court. She said her ability to lead her teammates gave her confidence she can do it even better at the next level.
"I am shy person. I don''t like to talk," Hoskins said. "Coach always pulled me over and told me I need to become more vocal and be more of a leader on the team. I took it and became more of a vocal leader."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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