One thing sticks out about Jemiyah McDonald’s game: Her liveliness on defense.
The Homewood-Flossmoor junior makes things difficult on the perimeter for opposing guards, with active hands and quick feet.
“Defense has always been my thing, not really offense. So I work on it,” she said. “Defense wins games.”
McDonald and the Vikings are winning a lot of games this season. H-F finished the regular season 19-7 (6-2 SouthWest Suburban Blue) and have a bye in the Lincoln-Way West regional.
The Vikings average over 53 points per game. They have scorers in Jaeda Murphy, Aunyai Deere, Jenesis Moore and Layla Pierce. So, McDonald isn’t asked to do that.
That’s why the bulk of her contributions come at the other end of the floor.
“She’s just tough, just a tough kid. She’s not afraid to put her nose in there. She’s an old-school, throwback player,” coach Tony Smith said. “She’s got IQ. She can pass. She can defend. She’s a junkyard dog.”
McDonald is also a leader. She feels like one of her roles is to keep the locker room positive. Self confidence and self esteem are important to her and she wants to help her teammates with that, too.
“She’s really good at encouraging people. She always helps people lift their head up,” junior Caris Pryor said. “She’s there when you need someone. There’s a lot of those (on this team), but she’s definitely one of them.”
Smith said they’re working on getting more lift on McDonald’s shot. She may be called on to score more next season after Pierce and Murphy graduate.
Defense is definitely the primary concern right now, though. The Vikings don’t start a player taller than 5-foot-10, so they need some disruption at the top of the key to try to keep opponents off balance.
McDonald said H-F tries to use its athleticism to its advantage.
“We don’t have a lot of height so what we need is our defense to help us with our offense,” Pryor said. “We’re small, but we’re fast.”
The Vikings hope that’s enough to make a deep playoff run. It’ll start with either Shephard or Thornwood on Monday.
“(The goal is) for us to make it to state,” McDonald said. “We got to work on it, though. It is going to be crazy but I think we can do it.”