February 7, 2017

With Freshman Hansford Emerging as Scoring Threat, Stuart Hoops Looking Forward to Postseason Action

JAZZED UP: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Jasmine Hansford, left, dribbles past a foe in recent action. Last Friday, freshman guard Hansford scored a career-high 25 points in a losing cause as Stuart fell 55-46 to Pennington. The Tartans, who moved to 16-5 with a 74-33 loss to Bound Brook last Monday, host Lawrence on February 1 and the Hun School on February 3 before playing at the Country Day School of the Sacred Heart (Pa.) on February 7. Stuart has been seeded No. 1 in the state Prep B tournament and is slated to host a semifinal contest on February 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In the beginning of the season, Jasmine Hansford deferred to others on the court for the Stuart Country Day School basketball team.

Finding her way as a freshman point guard for the Tartans, Hansford concentrated on setting others up and wasn’t looking as much for her shot.

In recent action, though, Hansford has emerged as a scoring threat for Stuart, tallying 14 points in a 55-26 win over Wardlaw-Hartridge on January 23 and then chipping in 13 points to help the Tartans defeat Lawrenceville 60-51 a day later.

“I am being more aggressive and driving to the basket,” said Hansford. “I would hide behind my defender before but now I am going to the basket trying to score.”

Last Friday against visiting Pennington, Hansford had it going, tallying a career-high 25 points in a 55-46 loss to the Red Raiders. With Stuart junior guard Jalynn Spaulding getting ejected from the contest on a flagrant foul in the last minute of the first quarter, Hansford and her teammates knew they faced an uphill battle.

“Everyone had to step it up and do more than they usually do because she is one of our main scorers,” said Hansford, reflecting on the impact of Spaulding’s exit.

Trailing 12-7 after the first quarter, the Tartans stepped up as they outscored Pennington 17-8 to forge ahead 24-20 by halftime.

“We definitely played together; every time someone made a basket we were excited for them,” said Hansford, in assessing the team’s second quarter rally which saw her score seven points. “We had to make sure that we keep that team bonding the whole game.”

Running out of gas in the second half, the game got away from short-handed Stuart as the Red Raiders used a 21-6 third quarter to take control of the contest. Hansford, though, saved her best for last, scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter as the Tartans battled to the final buzzer.

“I think we were getting frustrated after they kept scoring but we stayed in the game,” said Hansford. “Coach (Justin Leith) always says keep fighting, we got foul shots in the fourth quarter.”

Joining forces with Spaulding and sophomore star Bey-Shana Clark has helped Hansford mature quickly in her debut campaign.

“I try not to worry about being a freshman because I don’t want to use that as an excuse,” said Hansford. “I love playing with them; it is really fun.”

With the state Prep B tourney and the Mercer County Tournament coming up in the next few weeks, Hansford is looking to have some fun in postseason play.

“We have to make sure that we box out, get rebounds, and play as team,” said Hansford.

No matter how far Stuart goes in the tournaments, Hansford is glad she joined the program.

“If I didn’t come here, I would go to a public school and we would have gotten overshadowed by the boys’ team,” said Hansford. “I love playing at an all girls school.”