Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
PEEBLES — Simply put, there are very few players better than Peebles’ Jacey Justice with the basketball at her fingertips.
For awhile now, Justice has been one of the best scorers in the region, if not the state. She proved that tenfold by breaking her program’s all-time scoring record as a junior earlier this year.
Currently, the Indians sit at 20-3 overall with a district semifinal contest looming. This year’s tournament run is a bit different after the group played in a regional final last winter.
The experience factor is now there, they know what to expect and what type of atmosphere they’ll be playing in, and of course, Justice is still calling the shots on the offensive end.
That alone should make any opponent shudder.
Before Justice and the Indians take on Waterford in a Division IV district semifinal at noon, Saturday at Jackson, we caught up with the do-it-all junior to discuss her scoring record, playing for her mom and coach Billie Jo Justice, winning a regional title and much more.
Question: Earlier this year, you became your program’s all-time leading scorer with a full year left to play. How cool is that for you and do you think any other player ever breaks that record?
Justice: I came into the year with one goal and it was to have a winning season. Until like five games before, I didn’t realizeIi was actually that close. After I broke it, it felt like a big weight was off my shoulders …. no more pressure. It’s actually very cool and exciting. I hope my record will motivate younger girls to work hard and aim for it.
Q: Last year’s tournament run ended at the regional level. What makes this team as good or better than that team?
JJ: I think our team is better this year honestly. We all have more experience, even though we lost two players who contributed. All of us have stepped up and we get what it’s like in the tournament now. Harlee, who was out last year, has really stepped up bringing the ball up the court. Every girl on the team works hard and gives every ounce of effort until the buzzer goes off. We have the motivation, we want to win and we want to go far.
Q: You can score in so many different ways, but what’s your favorite way to score and why?
JJ: My favorite way to score would have to be a jump shot and my 3. Those are my favorite because it makes me feel more like my brothers when it comes to basketball. I watched Blake growing up, being able to hit 3 after 3 like it was effortless. Beau, on the other hand, can still shoot 3’s, but his mid-range jump shot over big defenders was just so cool to watch. It makes me feel more like them when I hit those types of shots.
Q: What do you feel like is your best on-court trait?
JJ: My best on-court trait would be leadership and being able to see the floor. I have basketball IQ from watching tons of basketball, from my brothers to having coaches who are also my parents teaching me the game.
Q: You have the opportunity to play for your mom as your head coach. How cool is that and can you talk about the bond you have with her?
JJ: Being able to play for my mom is super cool. We are super close. Sometimes we can read each other’s minds on plays and stuff and we always just laugh about it. She’s been my coach since pee wee. The girls my age on the team and I still laugh about how she made us run sweet sixteens as 10-year-olds (laughing).
Q: Overall, when this season is over, where do you hope your team’s season ends?
JJ: This has been a goal of mine ever since I can remember and the same goes for the girls on our team. Our goal is to make it to state. I know we will give it everything we have to make it there.
Q: One last question, Peebles isn’t too bad at track, either. How excited are you to try and make a return to the state meet?
JJ: I am very excited about track this year, too. Going to state last year was an amazing experience and I want to get there again. It would be the coolest thing ever to make it back there.