Laurel girls get hot at the right time -- Gazette.Net







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Last season, Laurel High School’s Lisa Jing was a passive point guard who was lacking in confidence. She was hesitant to shoot, scared to pass and didn’t “trust in myself to do certain things,” she said.

A year later, the senior hasn’t just improved; she has transformed into the team’s leading-scorer, providing the young Spartans (11-9 as of Tuesday) with much-needed veteran experience as they head into the Class 4A playoffs.

“Once that confidence grew, there was no stopping me,” Jing said. “... I just knew I had to [step up],” she said.

Jing, 5-foot-6, is averaging 16.6 points and has become the focal point on offense after being “an unknown” last season, Laurel coach Thomas Harrison said.

“She’s really improved over last year to this year,” Harrison said.

Defenses have started zeroing on Jing, but it hasn’t mattered. The senior is averaging 18.6 points over her past seven games and playing some of her best basketball as of late. She is scoring in a variety of ways, hitting a team-high 18 3-pointers and converting 50 of 88 from the free-throw line.

“It’s penetrating, it’s shooting, it’s getting to the line,” Harrison said.

Jing has teamed up with senior Megan Brown (15.9 points) to provide the Spartans with a one-two scoring punch. Combined, the duo accounts for more than half the team’s scoring.

Brown, nicknamed “stats,” is helping out on both ends of the floor, averaging 13 rebounds and five steals, Harrison said.

“She gets rebounds, steals, blocks, assists, points,” Harrison said. “She does it all, pretty much.”

The 5-foot-9 forward-center plays a crucial role as a rim protector in Laurel’s 2-3 zone defense, helping steer opponents out of the lane, Jing said.

“We know that she’s there to block the shot or contest it,” Jing said.

The team entered the season with only two players returning from last year’ 14-10 team, Harrison said. But the young squad has improved as the season progressed, still managing to finish above .500 in spite of roster turnover. Two of the team’s top contributors — Keyonna Biggs and Nayieh Miller — are freshmen.

“It was definitely difficult at the beginning to try and teach all the freshmen,” Brown said. “But as soon as everybody got into [a rhythm], everything started going well.”

Laurel has won five of its past eight games, including a 63-62 victory over No. 8 Bowie. Brown had 28 points and 13 rebounds in the victory while Jing chipped in 19.

“It blows their confidence sky high. Now they realize they can play with anybody,” Harrison said.

Laurel earned a first-round bye and was scheduled to host DuVal Wednesday in the 4A South Section I semifinals. The winner of that game is scheduled to host the winner of Wednesday’s High Point vs. Parkdale game. The Spartans have not advanced to the state tournament since 1992.

“I think Laurel is definitely going to surprise a lot of people during this playoff season,” Brown said.