December 20, 2017

Senior Star Spaulding Hits 1,000-point Milestone As Stuart Hoops Rolls to 60-35 Victory over PDS

GRAND MOMENT: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Jalynn Spaulding dribbles upcourt in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior guard Spaulding eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in her career as Stuart rolled to a 60-35 win over Princeton Day School. Spaulding scored 15 points in the victory to give her 1,008 points in her career. The Tartans, who improved to 5-1 with a 45-19 win over New Hope-Solebury High (Pa.) last Friday, are next in action when they host their annual Stuart Invitational Tournament from December 26-29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jalynn Spaulding knew she was seven points away from reaching the 1,000-point mark in her career as the Stuart Country Day School basketball team hosted Princeton Day School last Wednesday but she wasn’t focused on that milestone.

“I wanted to get a win; I wasn’t too worried about it,” said senior guard Spaulding. “It was just, play normal and not be selfish, pass, and do the right plays for the team.”

Spaulding reached the milestone on a lay-up in the first half as Stuart jumped out to a 26-0 lead and cruised to a 60-35 victory.

For Spaulding, hitting the 1,000-point mark was special. “I think it is good. I am trying to focus on winning and things like that,” said Spaulding, who ended up with 15 points on the day. “It is important; I am trying to stay humble but it is pretty big.”

In reflecting on the win over PDS, Spaulding acknowledged the Tartans let their focus lapse a little bit after building the big lead.

“When we get a lead, we have to make sure that we keep it up and not get lazy,” said Spaulding.

“I thought it was important to play good defense still even though the score really didn’t matter at that point.”

Coming into her final campaign at Stuart, Spaulding knows it is important for her to utilize her experience in a positive way.

“It is leadership and trying to keep us together so if we get down or have problems in a game we can just come together and not go separate ways,” said Spaulding, who is one of the team captains along with senior Maddie Michaels, junior Bey-Shana Clark, and senior Marisa Lewis.

Over the past few seasons, Spaulding and Clark have come together to form a formidable one-two punch for the Tartans.

“It is great, we do a lot of pick and roll and it works really well,” said Spaulding.

“We have been playing together for so long it is second nature for both of us, so it has been really good.”

Stuart head coach Justin Leith likes the way Spaulding has worked hard to improve her game.

“Jalynn has gotten better each year, I think the biggest jump is from last year to this year,” said Leith.

“In just our first four games, she has been finishing around the basket, she has been pushing the ball, and she has been shooting the ball well.”

In Leith’s view, Spaulding has done a good job pushing the team’s younger players to be their best.

“Overall she has been a leader to our freshmen,” said Leith. “We have eight freshmen this year and they need the expectations that have been set for Jalynn for three years and with Maddie [Michaels] for four years. They are helping them with the transition period of being freshmen. All of the captains are doing a great job, particularly Jalynn.”

While Leith was happy to see his team seize the momentum against PDS with the 26-0 run, he pressed his players to stay focused until the final buzzer.

“We want to be consistent, so the idea coming into today was to be more consistent and not worry about the score or anything like that,” added Leith.

“It was to make sure that we were consistent and played tough defense. We ran our offense and made them work on defense.”

Star forward Clark gave Stuart some good work around the basket against the Panthers, recording a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

“Bey is great inside, but even with the way she has been playing, she needs to be a little more aggressive, posting up a little bit harder and fine-tuning her stuff,” said Leith.

The team’s young backcourt tandem of freshman Nia Melvin and sophomore Jasmine Hansford excelled as Melvin had 10 points and 11 rebounds while Hansford chipped in 11 points, four rebounds, and two steals.

“Nia knows how to run an offense, she can shoot it, she can pass it, and she can rebound,” said Leith.

“Jasmine hasn’t gotten off as far as offense, but she is a different player defensively. I would make her our leader on defense. I was happy for her that she was making some shots today and doing what she is capable of doing.”

With Stuart improving to 5-1 with a 45-19 win over New Hope-Solebury High (Pa.) last Friday, Leith believes his squad is headed in the right direction.

“I am happy as long as we continue to get better every practice and every game,” said Leith, whose team is next in action when it hosts the annual Stuart Invitational Tournament from December 26-29. “We have certainly done that so far.”

Spaulding, for her part, senses that Stuart can do some special things this winter.

“The team chemistry this year feels like it is the best it has ever been,” said Spaulding.

“We are coming along really well and meshing well together. We have a good shot at really competing well in the Prep Bs and the MCTs this year with the team that we have.”