Basketball season is officially under way and junior Mason Garland wants to take the region by storm, especially after Jackson County Comprehensive High School finished the season behind North Oconee High School last year.
An 8-2 region record is certainly something to be proud of, but Garland is looking forward to a first-place finish.
“You could tell we wanted it [by] the look on everyone’s face. Our seniors were great leaders and we wanted it so bad for them. [We wanted them] to have the patch on their jacket. That motivates us this year especially since they are going to come back and watch our games,” said Garland.
Garland is also on the softball team and, as soon as she took off her cleats, she was strapping on a different pair of shoes and hitting the hardwood.
“I just went right into it. Basketball is a different pace but it’s easy to get into because I love the game,” said Garland. “A lot of the basketball players play softball, too, so it’s really easy to get into. [I have] five minutes of mental preparation and then [I get right into it].”
Garland is a second-year starter and doesn’t take the job lightly. This will be her third year on varsity and now because she is one of the first five on the floor, she understands the significance of her role.
“As a freshman, I played junior varsity and varsity. I went back and forth between the two. I wasn’t a starter but, my sophomore year, I was. It means a lot because I’ve worked my butt of to get to where I am now. To earn that starting position means so much to me because I’m a Jackson County Panther,” said Garland.
“This year I plan to do whatever it takes to take my team all the way, whether [I have to] be a vocal leader or a [physical] leader; showing them what to do on the court. In practice that’s what I do and that’s what the coaches expect of me,” said Garland.
North Oconee High School and Oconee High School look to be the only two recognizable teams returning to the region and, although Garland is unfamiliar with the newcomers, she is confident that her coach will have the team ready.
“I haven’t got a chance to see their records yet but I know the coach is looking into it and he’ll show us game film. We always come in and watch game film and he basis his plays that he runs off of their defense and offense,” said Garland. “We’ll be prepared but it will different because I think the competition will be a little bit [stiffer].”
Garland said she is hopeful the Panthers will do well and, despite what the future holds, Garland says she is anticipating the joy of competing with her team.
“I’m looking forward to playing with the girls. I love the girls and the coaches and I know we’re going to have fun this season no matter what happens,” said Garland.