Northeast girls basketball coach Dustane Reed doesn’t believe Pearl Jones is just the best athlete on his team.

“I think she could be the best athlete in the whole school, and we have some good athletes at our school, boys and girls,” Reed said.

Jones, a senior, plays forward for the Lady Vikings and is averaging 21.6 points and 9.8 rebounds a game. More impressive, she’s averaging nearly seven steals a game. She missed a couple games early in the season because she was wrapping up volleyball, where she was named to The Advocate’s All-Metro Team for divisions III and below as she averaged 10 kills per contest with 187 total kills, 78 digs and 61 blocks.

With those kinds of numbers, she’s likely one of the best athletes in the state. Reed believes the 6-1 Jones can play collegiately somewhere, but the phone hasn’t been ringing off the hook. He expects that to change.

“Some schools are looking at her for volleyball, but basketball is where her heart is,” Reed said. “I believe she will go anywhere she can play on the next level.”

The Lady Vikings have struggled at times, and their 8-12 overall record and 0-2 district tally are not indicative of the kind of squad Reed has playing for him in his first year as their coach.

Reed, who is in his eighth season as a coach, acknowledges the first part of the season was difficult as his players learned his system.

It’s a system that he honed as a successful AAU coach in the Hammond area, where his Team Shockaz finished in the top 10 in a national tournament for sixth-grade teams.

“We had some growing pains at first because I had to win the girls over,” said Reed, who also served as an assistant football coach for the Vikings. “They didn’t know me, and they didn’t know what to expect. It took time to get them to buy in and understand where my heart is with them. They’re very coachable.”

Jones is versatile and can play just about any position, including shooting guard or on the post. Northeast also features twins Lauri Kight in the post and Lauren Kight at shooting guard. These three players cause matchup problems for opposing teams. Throw in spark plug Jada Snowden, a junior, and Reed’s pleased with where his team is.

The two district losses were each by a single point, which Reed chalks up to a lack of experience. Jones didn’t play in four of the losses, and other players were missing for a couple of the other losses.

He said the district schedule is challenging but he expects his girls will make the playoffs. Because of the power rankings, which are partially based on strength of schedule, Reed thinks five teams from District 6-2A can earn playoff berths.

“Depthwise we’ve got it, but it depends on matchups and what the other team brings at us,” Reed said. “Personally, I think we’re still a district contender ’cause we’ve got a lot of parity in our district. We’re good enough to win out, but we’ve got to develop the necessary mental toughness. We don’t need any more lessons. It’s there. A lot of people haven’t seen our best.”

Zachary High’s Jackson shines

Zachary freshman Kristian Jackson was named Outstanding In-State Field Performer during the LSU High School Indoor Track Classic last week at the LSU Carl Maddox Field House. Jackson won the shot put with a winning toss of 40 feet, 3 inches, nearly 2 feet better than the nearest competitor.

Also winning was Zachary sophomore sprinter Janie O’Connor in the 60-meter dash in 7.64 seconds, who also was a member of the Lady Broncos’ 4x200 relay team that placed third.

Zachary’s Darryl Anderson was second in the high jump with a 6-foot, 3-inch leap.

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