ST. PAULS — The girls freshman class for this season in Robeson County had no shortage of talent. Four of the five teams in Robeson County were led in scoring by a freshman, including St. Pauls with point guard Jakieya Thompson leading the way.
Thompson came onto the scene and immediately left her mark for the Bulldogs that would go on to win the Robeson County Shootout and Three Rivers Conference regular-season championships, and the point guard was awarded Robeson County’s Underclassman of the Year award on the girls side.
“It felt great to be able to bring a championship back to St. Pauls,” Thompson said. “My teammates really pushed me to be better.”
Thompson averaged 12.4 points per game, led the county in steals at 5.2 per game and also dished 5.4 assists a game in her rookie campaign.
“Jakieya was probably the most important player on our team. She did it on both ends,” St. Pauls coach Mike Moses said. “It just meant a lot for her to come in and be a freshman. She’s a baby and still had to learn and catch on really fast. It helps that she had the leadership that she had around her.”
Being a freshman playing alongside veteran players like junior T.J. Eichelberger and senior Iyania Evans, Thompson said the upperclassmen were her support system on the court.
“My teammates helped me out by making me feel comfortable playing with them,” Thompson said. “When I was nervous and stuff, they told me not to worry about it, to just go out there and play my game. They made me feel better about myself, especially when I make a mistake.”
She scored in double figures in 17 of her first 19 games this season and scored a season-high 19 points in the win over Whiteville in February. Thompson flirted with a triple-double on several occasions this season, and came one steal short against Fairmont in December of attaining the feat.
Thompson’s offense thrived on her aggressive style of defense that made opposing backcourts weary, both in the halfcourt setting, but also as a part of the second line of the Bulldogs’ fullcourt press.
“I tried to be energetic and talking on defense,” Thompson said. “Now I want to work on my all-around game and be a much better leader.”
Moses said that improving Thompson’s jumpshot is a point of emphasis for her heading into next season, and that continued work could make her one of the best to play at St. Pauls when she is done.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.