Blue Springs freshman Jada Williams presented herself a pre-birthday present Monday night at Lee’s Summit North High School.
Her 16-point first quarter – and career-high 35-point game – led the Wildcats to a 60-44 Suburban Big Six victory over the Broncos.
Williams, who turns 15 Thursday, has been handed the keys to the Wildcat offense by coach Mark Spigarelli, and he simply marveled at what she did in the big conference victory.
“I’m assuming you want to talk to Jada,” quipped Spigarelli after his youthful Wildcats improved to 14-4 overall and 2-2 in league play. “Overall as a team, we were a little up and down, so we’re very thankful that Jada showed up tonight and turned in that performance.
“I think it goes without saying that she is a very special player – one of those players who make everyone else on the court that much better.”
Williams – who followed her 16 points in the first with four, eight and seven points in the last three periods – drew rave reviews from Broncos coach Tricia Lillygren, who has coached – and coached against – some of the greatest players in the history of Eastern Jackson County.
“She’s special,” Lillygren said. “And here is why she is special – she has such a high basketball IQ. She is so talented, yet she does all the things you can’t coach, the things that just come instinctively.
“She hit all those threes in the first period, and we tried to take them away, and she would drive to the basket. And if she didn’t have a shot, she would find an open teammate. We tried so many things to stop here and nothing worked.”
In what has become a frequent postgame event, fans from both schools will approach the likeable 14-year-old and ask a variety of questions and possibly request a photo or a signature.
One Broncos fan begged her to transfer to North while Spigarelli watched from a distance and chuckled.
“I think we have her the next four years,” he said, as a grinning Williams nodded in approval. “When she scored 32 points in a game earlier this year, you thought, ‘How can she top that?’ We found out tonight – and she did it all within our game plan. She is so unselfish, and she gets everyone involved in our offense.”
The Wildcats led 19-10 after one period and 35-22 at halftime.
“I am so proud of the way our kids battled and never gave up,” Lillygren said of her Broncos (6-10, 1-3). “We cut the deficit to eight one time and nine a couple of times in the second half, but they always had an answer.
“They are so young, and Mark is such a great coach – that team is going to be special for a long time.”
Between photos and chatting with fans, Williams said she was proud of the complementary game her teammates turned in.
“I was feeling it the first quarter,” Williams said, “and my teammates were getting me the ball. This was most definitely the best birthday present I could ever give myself – a big night and a conference win.”
When asked what she was anticipating on her actual birthday, one of the top freshmen in the nation had a ready answer.
“I’m hoping my car comes this summer,” she said, “so I’m definitely expecting shoes – Jordans – for my birthday, and candy. Lots of candy.”