McKayla Pilla

One of Seminole's Lady Noles basketball players practices her shots on the court.

Malavika Kannan, Reporter

In the past months, Seminole High’s undefeated Lady Noles basketball team dribbled their way to dominance at the Rock City Jam tournament in the Virgin Islands, held from Nov. 22-27. This competition was an important milestone in the career of many of our players; the team won third place.

The First Annual Rock City Jam tournament was held in St. Thomas, and nationally ranked teams from all over North America, including Maryland, Georgia, and Canada, competed. The tournament coincided with a women’s college basketball tournament (Paradise Jam Women’s Tournament), allowing the high school players to be exposed to a higher level of basketball, while giving them an opportunity to be discovered by coaches.

“It was a great opportunity for [the team] to see how everyone plays differently. [The tournament] got the team exposed,” says coach Shenique Gilbert.

Weeks of preparation went into the overseas tournament. Apart from practicing basketball, the trip had to be planned from beginning to end, as well as fundraised for. One of the difficulties, the coach adds, was that only 10 players could come.

“We researched the other teams [that we would be playing] and planned our best game,” says Gilbert.

The Lady Noles played against various acclaimed teams, and defeated  the players from Maryland. They lost to the teams from Atlanta and Montreal, finishing third overall. In addition, the Lady Noles were invited by Atlanta and Montreal to play in their future tournaments.

Two of Seminole’s players were invited to play in the All-Star Tournament: Raenna Jones and senior Aniquah Swan.

“I feel that we played very well, [seeing as] we played people who were taller than six feet,” says senior player Tierra Taylor. “We played better teams and [saw] what we need to improve.”

Playing far away from home was an experience that broadened the players’ minds and introduced them to the global world of basketball. The team encountered difficulties with the referees, who called differently than they were used to, often to their disagreement. They also contended with more aggressive teams than back home.

“I was nervous, because [we] didn’t have our families with us, only our teams, but we stuck it together,” says Taylor.

The trip wasn’t just all about basketball, however; the team enjoyed going kayaking, snorkeling, taking tours, and enjoying local cuisine and culture. Taylor especially enjoyed getting together with the other basketball teams on the beach to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Aniquah Swan was especially excited to return to her homeland of the Virgin Islands to play. “I had a lot of fun, and I got to see my family and friends,” says Swan.

Now that they are back on their home court, the Lady Noles basketball team feels more prepared to maintain their undefeated status. The players feel that their experience playing harder teams not only improved their skills, but also their relationship.

“We use basketball as an outlet to enhance team chemistry,” says Gilbert.

Seminole High School’s girls basketball team is proud of their third place win in a tournament in the Virgin Islands, which greatly improved their prospects as individual players and as a team. They are looking forward to continuing to work hard to dominate the upcoming local championships.