On any typical night, Truman High School senior Becca Jonas can start the game with a 3-point basket, dominate an opponent with a double-double or fire a pinpoint pass that leaves the crowd – and her Patriot teammates – begging for more.
“She's the toughest matchup in the city, and one of the most complete players I've ever coached,” Truman coach Steve Cassity said of the 6-foot-1 center.
“She can dominate in the paint – we've all seen that. If she has the ball high post, she will find an open teammate or hit a 3-pointer, and if we needed her to, she could bring the ball down the court.
“How do you guard against that? I'm just happy I don't have to worry about it.”
For those opposing coaches who have nightmares about the future Drake University player, challenges abound.
“She's a great kid and a great player,” said Blue Springs South coach Brad Oyler, who was once a member of Cassity's staff at Truman. “She has worked so hard to make herself a complete player. She's one of the best passers in the city, and when it comes to talent, Truman has the 'Big Three' with Becca, Abby (Hix) and Kayla (Harrell).”
Hix opens things up for Jonas inside when she starts draining 3-pointers, but is quick to say, “Becca is the team. It all revolves around her. She can hit the 3, if you're open she's going to get you the ball and she is a great rebounder. She does it all.”
Harrell agreed that Jonas is the Patriots’ linchpin.
“She's our leader,” Harrell said. “I think what surprises people the most about Becca is the way she can pass the ball. You have to watch her game after game to see what a great passer she is. She's always going to score and get rebounds, but she does the other things – like make those great passes – that helps us win games.”
As a junior, Jonas was a key to the Patriots’ undefeated 2012-13 regular season. They haven't skipped a beat this season as they are undefeated at 7-0 and one of the area favorites to reach the state final four.
“That's my goal, and it's my only goal, to help the team get to state,” said Jonas, who is averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds this season. “I just feel so blessed to be playing with a group of girls I love. We are all best friends, and we do everything together.
“No one cares who scores or who gets the credit. We all know our roles, and we're going to work hard to get to state after not making it last season.”
The Patriots finished last season with a 25-1 record after an upset loss to Kearney in the district finals.
Page 2 of 2 - Jonas and the Patriots are doing everything in their power to make sure that doesn't happen again this season.
“I still think about that loss,” said Jonas, a four-year starter who entered this season with 801 career points and 503 rebounds. “We're a new team this year, with great new players, but we're off to a great start and we're really playing like a team.
“Our new sophomores, Bri (Savidge) and Lexi (Hart), fit right in and Ashley (McKinney) is doing a great job running the offense. Abby and Kayla are such great players – it's like we all know what everyone is thinking out on the court.
“And the success we had last year is just going to make us work even harder this year.”
When asked how she developed her overall game and love of basketball, Jonas had a ready answer.
“I've worked hard to do my best to become a complete player,” she said. “I didn't just want to be the big girl who scored down low or the rebounder. I want to be able to do everything I can to help us win. We had a great year last year, and we want to have an even better one this season.
“And my love of the game came from my mom and dad. They are my biggest fans, and all my relatives are at all my games. It's great to have that kind of support.”
While she dominates on the court, Jonas takes the same competitive edge to the classroom, where she is a member of the Truman chapter of the National Honor Society and owns a 4.0 grade point average this semester.
“You're a student first, so grades are very important to me,” she said. “My work ethic isn't limited to basketball or volleyball, it applies in the classroom, too. I'm as proud of my grades as I am my success in sports.”
While she has plenty of unfinished business at Truman, Jonas is excited about the future.
“It took some pressure off knowing that I was going to Drake and that I could just concentrate on basketball this season,” Jonas said. “But when you sign with a school, there is the pressure of proving to everyone that you are a Division I player.
“But that's good pressure. That's the type of pressure that makes you want to succeed every night.”