Gaithersburg High School senior forward Jackie Jackson caught the ball at the top of the 3-point arc midway through the second half of Sunday’s Roundball Classic Mid-Atlantic Premier game, looked left and then right, and when no options presented themselves, bent her knees and launched a 3-pointer.
The near-capacity crowd in attendance at North Hagerstown High School gasped audibly. Hitting outside shots wasn’t a big part of the senior forward’s role with the two-time reigning Maryland 4A champion Trojans.
But the seventh annual Roundball Classic provides an excellent forum for high school basketball standouts from the Washington Metropolitan area to showcase their talents.
“I shoot a little bit. I think I hit three, 3-pointers during the season,” Jackson said. “It’s always exciting and everyone is like, ‘Oh, [she can do that?]’”
A Temple University recruit, Jackson was named the game’s most valuable player after tallying 18 points and 14 rebounds to lead the National All-Stars to an 85-70 win over the American All-Stars.
Most of the 30 players participating in Sunday’s game, which featured the best of the best as voted by coaches and the Roundball Classic’s selection committee, had just met at the teams’ sole practice earlier in the week.
However, Jackson and National teammate Lauren Tolson of Frederick High play ball together often as AAU travel basketball teammates with the D.C. Flames.
Their familiarity with one another provided a good foundation for the National team to build around Sunday. Tolson, a University of Richmond recruit, finished with 11 points.
“It was hard playing with people we’ve never played with before,” said Montrose Christian senior Tiffany Webster, a member of the American team. “The first five minutes we were trying to get a feel for each other. Close to halftime we started to feel more comfortable with each other.”
The adjustment was evident as the National team jumped out to a 29-13 first-half lead before the American team cut it to nine points late in the period. The National team led 43-30 at halftime. It never led by less than 11 points in the second half, though the American team did create much more resistance.
Sunday’s contest featured an interesting dynamic. Every player was a star on her high school team but there were no standouts Sunday.
While Sunday’s game did feature some spectacular moves, the best players, Tolson said, don’t need to showboat.
“If you play your role, in the end, your points will come,” she said.
Mid-Atlantic Premier All-Star game: National All-Stars 85, American All-Stars 70
National All-Stars: Jackie Jackson 18; Te’Shya Heslip 14; Lauren Tolson 11; Ryan Jordan 8; Sarafina Arthur-Williams 6; Raven Makins 6; Johanna Lopez 4.
American All-Stars: Daisy Aleaze 16; Kazzidy Stewart 12; Alex Long 11; Tiffany Padgett 9.