GIRLS BASKETBALL: Q&A with Kankakee’s Tabetha Jones
After two years of painful losses and endless lessons, Tabetha Jones is reaping all the benefits.
After last season’s 23-8 run to a Class 3A super-sectional, she’s helped the Kays achieve a season very few thought ever would happen.
The Kays rattled off 30 straight wins, won the Southland Athletic Conference and set multiple new school records. They’re heading into the Class 3A postseason as the top seed in its regional.
The Daily Journal caught up with the senior forward to talk about what this season has been like, playing for head coach John Maniatis and much more.
Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Question: What has this season been like for you?
Jones: It’s had its ups and downs from practices to games, but we all continue to keep growing as a team. We’re all getting better every single day, so, overall, it’s been pretty good, I’d say.
Q: For you personally, you went from being the No. 1 option to taking a little bit of a backseat from a scoring standpoint. How has that changed your mentality from game to game?
J: I still have that winner’s mentality. That past two years have taught me you do whatever it takes to win, on the court and off the court. My presence on the court during the past few years could be seen as a threat, which is helpful for my teammates because it gets them open for them to attack. I don’t necessarily need the ball to help us win. I do whatever is needed to win.
Q: You’ve had two triple-doubles this season, which is incredible. What is that feeling like knowing you’re that versatile and an even better threat now?
J: I didn’t even know that; wow! But it means I’m doing my job right and helping my team get the ball where it needs to be. Grabbing rebounds, scoring when needed and making those passes. Overall, I can help at whatever area we need offensively or defensively.
Q: What has it been like having Ambranette Storr in the program and playing alongside her?
J: She’s not a very outspoken person off the court, but it’s completely different on the court. She can speak volumes without saying one word with points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals and more. It’s been lovely having her on the team and taking some pressure off of my shoulders and putting it on hers.
Q: Same question with Imani Williams transferring from Bishop McNamara to Kankakee. What is it like watching her play?
J: Imani is a straight beast on the boards. She can grab anything. Sometimes, I think she’ll miss the layup on purpose just to get the rebound and putback (laughs). She’s awesome.
Q: As a senior and considering what the program endured during you first two years, what has this transformation from three wins to 30 wins been like?
J: I never would have thought of this happening as a freshman or sophomore. I knew we were going to get better by the day, but I never saw a 180 turn coming from the coaching staff to the players to the incoming freshman we have. Our entire mentality changed.
Q: You scored your 1,000th career point earlier the season. What did that moment mean to you?
J: I was not aware how close I was. The game I scored No. 1,000, no one knew except my coach. I asked him after the game, and he told me I was 9 away entering that game, and I scored about 18 against Lindblom. That moment meant a lot.
Q: Speaking of your coach, what is it like playing for him?
J: He is one crazy man, I can tell you that. But it’s truly been a blessing to play for him and learn from him. The way he thinks, it’s all a mind game to him. He yells at everything, and you can sense his anger without him saying anything; it’s crazy. There was one time during the summer we were playing and had a 10- to 15-point lead. The other team went on a 10-0 run, and he called a timeout. He said nothing in the huddle the entire time, and we were all scared. We didn’t know what to do. He’s insane but a great coach.
Q: It’s now tournament time, and there’s seven games between you and a state championship. What needs to happen for you guys to capture that title?
J: We have to continue focusing on the little things. Most might say we haven’t played anyone or our competition hasn’t been that good. We’re not playing against them; we’re playing against the game of basketball. As long as we are paying attention to detail in these last games, we’ll accomplish our goal.