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South Valley Riverton Journal

Early success for Mountain Ridge girls basketball coming courtesy of young sophomore

Jan 05, 2024 09:55AM ● By Josh McFadden

Mountain Ridge center Jessica Maynard is averaging nearly a double-double this season, leading the Sentinels to a nice start. (Photo courtesy of L1quid Studios)

The Mountain Ridge girls basketball team has gotten off to a strong start in the 2023–24 season. Sophomore Jessica Maynard is a big reason why. 

Through the team’s first eight games, and a 6-2 record, Maynard was second on the team in scoring at 14.1 points per game. She also led the Sentinels in rebounding with 8.6 an outing. After scoring nine points in the season opener against Lehi on Nov. 16, 2023, Maynard reached double figures in points the seven games that followed. She pulled down a season-high 15 rebounds while scoring 17 points in game two at Highland Nov. 21. In that same game, she also blocked a season-best four shots. 

Mountain Ridge head coach Kenzie Newton couldn’t be more pleased with Maynard’s play. She also praises Maynard for what she does away from the game and for the type of person she is. 

“[Mayard] is not only an amazing young lady but a very talented basketball player,” Newton said. “She has a contagious smile and is someone that is admired by all of her teammates. Jess is very competitive on the court and makes us all laugh off the court.”

Maynard started playing at the young age of 5. You could say basketball is in her blood.

“I grew up around it,” she said. “Both of my parents played in college, and most my siblings played. I lived and breathed basketball.”

Though she has experienced some difficult times playing the game, Maynard said her experience has been mostly positive and has included some memorable moments. She loves competing with her teammates, who are girls she has grown to love. It’s that team camaraderie that makes Mountain Ridge such a successful team and an enjoyable program to be a part of. Maynard said no one has a big ego, and it doesn’t matter who scores or puts up big numbers. The players are all in it together. 

“We have really good coaches and good culture,” she said. “We have a very unselfish environment, and we are all in it for the win and not stats. We have good chemistry and it’s really cool to be part of a team like that.”

As a player, Maynard believes rebounding is one of her biggest strengths. She’s also a strong player inside and difficult for other teams to defend. Her prowess in the paint makes it difficult for the opposition to score on and shut down the Sentinels. 

“I do well at getting myself to the basket inside the paint,” she said. “I bring an inside presence to the team.”

Maynard acknowledges she has things to work on, and she’s always striving to improve and develop. With still two more seasons after this one to play for Mountain Ridge, Maynard is already focusing on being a leader and an example on and off the court.

“I am working on my leadership skills and being more aggressive offensively,” she said. 

Last season as a freshman, Maynard had more of a supporting role. She averaged 4.2 points and 2.8 rebounds a game for the Sentinels. Mountain Ridge tied for the Region 3 title with Herriman, going 8-2. The Sentinels were 19-6 overall and lost in the state tournament to Fremont in the Class 6A quarterfinals. 

Maynard and her teammates want to repeat as league champions. To help accomplish this, she has set some lofty goals for herself.

“I want to average a double-double and for our team to work as a team and win region,” she said. “Individually, I need to be a scorer and get rebounds. For our team, we need to work as a team and move the ball.”

Maynard isn’t far away from averaging double figures in both points and rebounds. She posted a double-double in those categories twice in the first eight games and nearly achieved it in two others when she had double figures in points and added eight rebounds. A great all-around player, she also had four steals against Cottonwood on Dec. 12 and had a season-high four assists against American Fork on Nov. 30. 

Being just a sophomore, Maynard hasn’t mapped out her future just quite yet. Still, she doesn’t plan on walking away from the game after high school. 

“I do see basketball in my future,” she said. λ