A hint of animosity can ruin a promising team in sports.
St. Vincent-St. Mary girls basketball coach Joe Jakubick knows it. So do his players.
Fortunately for Jakubick, he doesn’t have to worry about any hostility because the Fighting Irish are teammates on the court and friends off the court.
Senior starters Shannon Jack, Cassie Jakubick, Jordan Korinek, Kiley May and Alexis Taylor genuinely like each other.
The five reserves — sophomores Amelia Motz, Lexie Handley, Jane Uecker and Octavia Loll and senior Alexa Nolte — enjoy each other’s company, too.
In addition to the positive vibe surrounding the team, the girls are talented and have led St. V-M to a 12-0 record.
“This group has experience and great chemistry,” said Joe Jakubick, a former University of Akron standout basketball player and three-time college All-American.
“To date, there is no drama. These kids come and they work hard. Whatever minutes they get, they get. The younger kids on the bench are tremendous. It is just a great situation. We defend pretty well. We make teams hit shots on us. We just try to wear teams down.”
Korinek, a 6-foot-2 forward and Kent State recruit, leads St. V-M with averages of 19 points,10 rebounds and two blocks per game.
“Our chemistry as a team has been great,” said Korinek, a three-year starter who has 927 career points. “Our focus as a team has also helped us be undefeated. We take each game one at a time. Every time before we go and play we say ‘We’re 0-0. It is a new game.’ ”
St. V-M has won its games by between three and 50 points with its best wins coming over Solon, Chippewa, Walsh Jesuit and Cleveland St. Joseph Academy.
“I think maturity, strong leadership and togetherness on our team are why we are having success,” said Jack, a four-year starter who has 1,010 career points. “We just have a really good team bond and we mesh really well on the court.”
Jack, a 5-8 guard and Slippery Rock recruit, averages 13 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals per game.
May, a 5-6 guard and Tiffin recruit, also averages in double figures at 10 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals per game.
“We have always dreamed about winning state,” Jack said. “Even coming in as freshmen, we thought about it. Every team wants to win state. We have an inner desire, and especially in our senior year we knew we would all be together. We really want to go far in the tournament and go undefeated this season.”
St. V-M has been a Division II district finalist in each of the past three years only to fall to Norton in 2011 and Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown the past two seasons. The Irish won state titles in 1979 and 1980 in Class AAA and in 1995 in Division III.
Taylor, a 5-11 forward and Findlay recruit, moved to Ohio from North Carolina prior to her junior year. She has acclimated quite nicely with her classmates and averages six points, six rebounds, one assist, one block and one steal per game.
Jakubick’s daughter, Cassie, also makes an impact, contributing five points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals per game.
“She is pretty solid academically and a very good basketball player,” Jakubick said of his daughter. “What hurt her was the knee injury during [her] junior year. College coaches didn’t get to see her play while she was out. She has good skills and can do everything.”
Cassie Jakubick is considering playing college basketball or just focusing on her studies. She has a 4.2 grade-point average and is looking at possibly attending Case Western Reserve, the University of Akron, Kent State or Walsh University. John Carroll and the College of Wooster have expressed interest in her for basketball.
Handley has a 4.1 grade-point average. Korinek (3.9), Jack (3.7), Taylor (3.7), Motz (3.6), May (3.5), Nolte (3.5), Uecker (3.2) and Loll (3.1) are all over 3.0.
“These kids have really worked hard,” Joe Jakubick said. “I feel very blessed to be able to coach young ladies like this. They are all very intelligent.”
Jakubick, 51, is in 10th season as St. V-M’s coach following a distinguished basketball career at Mansfield Madison High School and UA.
Jakubick is UA’s all-time leading scorer with 2,583 points in 108 games from 1980-1984. He graduated in 1985. He led the nation in scoring as a senior with 814 points in 27 games (30.1 points per game average) and was the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year as a senior and Co-OVC Player of the Year as a junior. His No. 31 hangs from the rafters at Rhodes Arena.
The Cavaliers drafted Jakubick in the seventh round of the 1984 NBA Draft, but he never played a game professionally. He still plays recreationally and is in his 28th year working for Ohio Edison, which is a FirstEnergy company in Akron.
“He is always working for us and trying to make us better,” Korinek said. “The other day he drove down to Columbus to scout a team. That is two hours away. He is always watching film and putting us in the best position to win.”
St. V-M hosts Dublin Coffman at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Mansfield Senior at 6:30 p.m. Monday. The Irish visit Hathaway Brown at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Blazers are 1-14 after winning the Division II state championship in each of the past five years.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.