Sports

’Cats sharpshooter Brown takes aim at next challenge

Brookswood Bobcats’ Jessie Brown fends off an Oak Bay defender during high school basketball action at the Langley Events Centre in December. Brown and the ’Cats won both this game and the provincial finals three months later at the LEC to capture the B.C. 3A girls high school championship. - Gary Ahuja/Langley Times
Brookswood Bobcats’ Jessie Brown fends off an Oak Bay defender during high school basketball action at the Langley Events Centre in December. Brown and the ’Cats won both this game and the provincial finals three months later at the LEC to capture the B.C. 3A girls high school championship.
— image credit: Gary Ahuja/Langley Times

Jessie Brown’s morning routine will soon come to an end.

For the past 11 years — ever since she was in the second grade — Brown has accompanied her dad, Neil Brown, to Brookswood Secondary at 7 a.m.

And every morning, Brown would go into the gym, and work on her jump shot. During her elementary school years, Brown would then catch a ride from one of the other players’ moms to Alice Brown Elementary.

The work obviously paid off as Brown graduates in June as one of the top Grade 12 girls basketball players in the entire province.

Now comes the next phase in her basketball adventure: a university career with the Trinity Western Spartans.

She warmed up for her post-secondary career by playing in the B.C. girls high school all-star game on Sunday (April 20) at the Langley Events Centre.

“She doesn’t have a choice when she goes to school, but she gets to choose whether she shoots or not,” explained Neil Brown, a teacher and basketball coach at Brookswood.

Jessie Brown estimates she hoisted up 500 shots as part of her daily routine, even if some mornings she was the only one there.

“Shooting, I just don’t get bored with it,” she said.

And practice makes perfect.

This past season, Brown was a key cog in helping the Bobcats capture the B.C. girls 3A basketball title.

The five-foot-eight shooting guard averaged 20.2 points as well as 4.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. The bulk of the points came from beyond the arc with Brown connecting on nearly 42 per cent of her three-point shots (182-for-436).

So what is the secret?

For one thing, you can’t dwell on a missed shot.

“That is probably the most important thing, when you miss, you have to move on to the next play and just remember when you shoot, you can’t think about anything else,” she explained.

“You just have to remember that is what you are good at and that is what your team needs you for.”

It was in the fifth or sixth grade when Brown realized just how special a shooter his daughter was.

Playing club basketball in the springs and summers, mainly across the border in Washington State, and the coach would see the other team keying on his daughter.

“She saw defences in Grades 5, 6 and 7 that you don’t even see here in high school,” he said.

“She learned to survive out there.”

Another indication of Jessie Brown’s shooting prowess is backed up by the 94Fifty, a Smart sensor basketball that provides instantaneous data such as the arc of the ball as the shooter releases their shot.

The optimal arc is 46 or 47 degrees.

“When most people use it, they are quite all over the map (but) Jessie’s shot is within one degree of perfect every time,” he explained.

“Her shot is a perfect angle, quick release. It comes from literally thousands of hours of shooting the basketball.”

Being known as the top outside shooter in the province is a nice title to have, but Brown knows she wouldn’t have the success she has had without help from her teammates.

“It means a lot, but I owe a lot of it to Ace (Aislinn Konig) and Tayla (Jackson),” she said.

Konig, the ’Cats Grade 10 point guard this past season was named MVP at provincials, while Jackson, a Grade 11 post player, was a first team all-star. Brown was also a first team all-star.

The team went 40-1 over the season.

With Konig running the offence, it frees Brown up to concentrate on getting open looks at the basket, while Jackson commands attention in the post, creating even more opportunity for the shooting guard.

Brown says his daughter is a testament to hard work and perseverance. He described his daughter as a decent athlete who is not the quickest on the floor, but compensates in those areas with her work ethic.

“Her strong point of the game was practising and developing skills,” the coach explained.

“I always look at it as she represents the 99 per cent of kids who don’t have the genetic make-up to play on national teams and stuff. But she shows that you don’t have to be six-foot-four and all those things to be a good player.”

Working hard in the weight room is a big plus.

“She has realized that strength can overcome size and getting a quick shot can overcome height,” he added.

At Brookswood, Brown has been a part of a top-four team in the province all five years.

In Grade 8, the ’Cats came second and in Grade 9, the junior team won the championship with Brown earning MVP honours.

She moved up to the senior team the following year and Brookswood finished fourth and last year, the team came second.

Now comes the next challenge: helping Trinity Western develop as a program.

“I want to be part of rebuilding the program,” Brown said, adding that she enjoyed playing last summer for Spartans coach Cheryl Jean-Paul as part of the Team BC’s U17 provincial team.

It also helped that one of her teammates from that squad, Kayla Gordon, and former Brookswood teammate Luca Schmidt, are both on the TWU roster.

Jean-Paul said  she has seen very few players who can shoot the ball like Brown.

“She plays for a program what has one of the fastest paces and scoring abilities in the high school system and she shoots the ball with great accuracy, finds her teammates  and makes great decisions in attacking the rim,” she said.

“I’ve witnessed first-hand her ability to be a threat at the next level.”

In addition to the change from high school to university, Brown is going to a vastly different coaching style.

“He is very loud and aggressive the way he coaches and Cheryl is a bit more quiet and lets you figure things out,” she said.

But Brown knows her father’s abrasive coaching style — she admits they have feuded in the past and says it can be difficult when your dad is screaming at your best friends — has played a part in helping both her and her older sister Christina’s success.

“He will still help me out as much as she can,” Brown said.

“He has been a really big part of where I am today. I think he has always seen what I am capable of so he pushed me.

“At the time, I probably wasn’t grateful for it, but now I am.”

It isn’t always the easiest being the coach’s kid, her dad admitted.

“You are always a little harder on your own kids because you don’t want anyone to say your kid got a break,” he said.

He is happy both daughters are still playing close to home — Christina is a third-year forward with the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Eagles basketball team — so he can continue watching them play.

 

 

 

Gary Ahuja/Langley Times

Jessie Brown shares a hug with her dad Neil, after the pair helped the Brookswood Bobcats capture the provincial championship in March.

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