News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 25, 2013

Floor leaders: Terre Haute South's Joyner, North's Jahn lead teams into battle

Andy Amey
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — They have similar on-court leadership responsibilities, and they play for coaches with a little playing experience of their own at the position.

So help and scrutiny are always available for Terre Haute South’s Labrea Joyner and Terre Haute North’s Nate Jahn, who figure to bring leadership to tonight’s high school basketball doubleheader in Hulman Center — even though both might have teammates scoring more points.

Joyner’s Braves face North at 6:30, with Jahn’s Patriots playing South in the second game.

And if their teammates get the headlines in the Tribune-Star on Saturday, that’s all part of the job, the two senior point guards said earlier this week.

Jahn might be the least likely player in either game to lead his team in scoring, but both coach Todd Woelfle — who did lead North in points from the backcourt a few times during his career — and the other Patriots know how valuable Jahn is in making sure somebody on the team does get baskets.

“[Jahn] does a good job getting the basketball to people we need in scoring position,” Woelfle pointed out. “His assist-to-turnover ratio is crazy (61-20 for the season) … we have a lot of confidence in his decision-making.”

“We have guys on this team who can score,” Jahn agreed, “so I don’t have to worry about that very often.”

Joyner is not averse to scoring, particularly when she can beat defenders to the basket, but that’s just a bonus according to both the player and coach Cara Stuckey.

“I have to get everyone organized, get my teammates the ball, and make plays,” Joyner said when asked about her role. “I think I’m doing a pretty good job. I’ve got a lot of assists, [so I’m] helping my teammates out.”

“Saturday she had career highs in points [15] and assists [10],” said Stuckey, one of the best of an impressive list of former South guards. “She makes her teammates better, and that helps our success as well.”

Both players are two-year starters for teams with winning records during their tenures, and it’s not a coincidence.

Joyner improved steadily while running the South offense as a junior and the Braves finished strong as a result. Both she and her team have continued to get better this season.

“She’s really stepped up this year,” Stuckey pointed out. “She leads us in assists [5.2 per game] and steals … she does what I expect a point guard to do: she finds her teammates so they can make shots, and she puts pressure [defensively] on [the other team’s] point.”

“[Stuckey] wants me to make good passes, and not turn the ball over so much,” Joyner said. “Just play basketball.”

Jahn was a sparkplug on a team that reached a Class 4A regional championship game last winter, and proved his mettle by stepping outside his role and making some big shots in North’s biggest win along that road, an upset of second-ranked Pendleton Heights.

“He’s been a floor leader for us the last two seasons,” Woelfle said. “He understands the game of basketball, our program and what we’re trying to do. He’s passionate about his teammates and about winning.”

“My coach put me at point guard in the fourth grade, and I just started passing,” Jahn said. “My role was to make other people look good, and I kind of continued that. The guys seem to like it … and I kind of like the role of being bossy.”

Unquestionably the more soft-spoken of the two guards, Joyner probably hasn’t been described as “bossy.” But she might be getting closer.

“She’s been a vocal leader this year,” Stuckey said. “She organizes what we want to run.”

That might make Jahn might a fan of hers. Asked what he looks for when watching other teams play, he said, “I look at how the point guard controls the game. I don’t look at the boxscore all that much, but I do look at assist-to-turnover ratio.”

Neither player claims to be as much of an off-the-court leader, but for good reasons.

“We have good chemistry,” said Joyner, whose teammates include a pair of four-year regulars in Tasia Brewer and Emily Bell who provide leadership themselves. “We do stuff together and all hang out.”

“I guess I kind of coordinate the team meals [before games],” said Jahn, one of 10 seniors on the North roster. “We always have a good time … these guys are like my brothers.”