It was a 2-for-1 on Wednesday night inside the Hawthorne High School gymnasium. Senior guard Jaz’lyn Jackson signed to play community college basketball at Hill College in Hillsboro, Texas, and the Lady Hornets were presented with their state championship rings.
This past February, Hawthorne (15-5) defeated Wildwood, 42-38, to win the Class 1A state title.
“It was a special day,” said Hawthorne girls basketball coach Cornelius Ingram, who also led the Hornets to its first football state title this past December. “I’m just proud of these girls, extremely proud of Jazz because she was the longest tenured player in our program, especially since I’ve been the coach.”
Jackson never thought she would play at the next level.
“It means everything,” she said. “After winning state, I didn’t think I would still play basketball. I told my mom, my family, I don’t really want to play, but Hill College gave me this opportunity, gave me a full scholarship, so I figured I would try something new and get out of the state.”
Hillsboro is a small city located about 30 minutes from Dallas, so she still gets that small hometown feel.
“I love the small town,” Jackson said. “The small town is good and then the culture just stood out for me.”
Jackson scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the Class 1A state semifinals against Ponce De Leon and finished with seven points and nine rebounds in the championship game.
The lone senior was second on the team in scoring (16.5 points per game) and she was second on the team in rebounding (10.2 rebounds per game).
“She can score on all three levels,” Ingram said. “I remember her freshman year she was more so inside, sophomore year she started knocking down the mid-range, and then her junior year and senior year she hit some big 3s in crucial moments, in big games. I think she can defend all five positions. She’s a great athlete. Just an awesome player I’m honored to have coached.”
It was the second state championship for Jackson, who was a member of the 2020 state championship team which went 29-2 to win the school’s first title in program history.
She also helped lead the Hornets to the 2021 final four.
“She has done a lot for our program on and off the floor,” Ingram said. “She does things the right way, in the classroom, on the court of course, and she was special in all of those state championship runs.”
Rising senior Zakena Ealy, who was also on that 2020 title team, will have a chance to win her third state title next season.
“It feels good,” Ealy said. “I like the rings. They really look nice. We’re happy that we got them.”
Rising juniors De’Mya Adams and Jhalea Jackson, who is Jaz’lyn’s younger sister, will also have a chance to repeat next season.
Adams led the Hornets with 18 points in the title game while the younger Jackson had a monster game, finishing with 10 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks.
“I think this team can repeat,” Jhalea Jackson said. “We’ve got potential. Everybody’s returning. We just need more effort when we first come into the season because last season we came in “iffy,” but this season we’re going to stay on top and get that ring again.”
For the second time in program history, the Hawthorne girls basketball team is on top again.
But can they stay there?
Ingram said it is “extremely hard” to repeat.
“You’re talking about getting state championship effort from every opponent,” he said. “Being able to focus in, blocking out the noise that these kids are hearing every single day, is extremely hard. There is a target on your back after you win a state championship.”
Although they started slow (4-4), last year’s team may have been a team of destiny.
“They had a bitter taste in their mouth last year after getting knocked off by Wildwood (2022 region final),” Ingram said. “We came in that offseason with a purpose, and the girls worked hard all summer.”
They received the hardware in February for their efforts, and now they have the bling.