Central-Phenix City basketball players Monique Jackson and Kristi Mokube have won an array of individual honors during their time with the Red Devils and earned themselves scholarships to Mississippi and Florida State, respectively.
Now they’re looking to leave something for the rest of the program by setting in stone a new standard as they prepare to make a run at a state title, beginning with this week’s Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A Area 7 tournament.
“I’m thinking about leaving a legacy,” Mokube said. “When I leave, I want the next team to come in and I want them to be like, ‘We can do this again.’”
Heading into the start of the AHSAA Class 6A Area 7 tournament, Jackson said No. 6 Central (21-4) is in excellent position to reach beyond last season’s Class 6A state quarterfinals berth.
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“I feel like we’re way further along and way more talented than last year,” Jackson said. “We have so much talent and so much more determination, and we have even more chemistry on and off the court.”
In the girls Class 6A Area 7 tournament, Auburn plays Opelika at 6 p.m. today in the first round at Central, followed by a Central-Smiths Station matchup at 7:30 p.m. The area final will be played at 7 p.m. Saturday at Central.
The Russell County girls host the Class 5A Area 4 tournament, beginning today with a 6:30 p.m. game between Valley and B.T. Washington, followed by a game between Russell County and Tallassee at 8 p.m.
In the boys Class 6A Area 7 tournament, Central plays Auburn at Opelika at 6 p.m. Friday, and Opelika hosts Smiths Station at 8 p.m. The final will be played at 8 p.m. Monday at Opelika.
The Russell County boys play Valley at 7 p.m. Friday at B.T. Washington in Tuskegee, Ala., and B.T. Washington hosts Tallassee at 8:30 p.m. The winners will play at 8 p.m. Monday in the final.
In each of the previous two seasons, the Central girls have improved on their standing. The Red Devils finished 12-12 without a playoff berth in 2008-09 and jumped to 21-9 last season while capturing an area title and reaching the Class 6A quarterfinals.
This season, the team already has reached last season’s 21-win mark, and its seniors said there is still room to grow.
“People had a lot of high expectations for us already because of how well we did last year and having these two star players on the team,” Central senior forward Jamicia Lewis said. “We just worked hard as we went, we don’t take anything lightly, and we never let anything go to our heads.”
Central is on a five-game winning streak, with its two most recent losses coming to Kendrick, which remains undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Georgia High School Association Class AA. Mokube said the team is building on that momentum and expects it to power through the area tournament.
“I feel like we’re getting better every day,” she said. “We haven’t reached the level we can get to as a team yet. Our ceilings are high.”
Chris White, 706-571-8571; follow Chris online at twitter.com/le_chriswhite and at facebook.com/lechriswhite.