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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Over 3,000 reasons to celebrate at Verona

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A grand celebration. Verona High School recently honored juniors Tristan Carrasquillo, Jenna Chadd and Jessica Smith pictured above from left, for scoring 1,000 points during their prep basketball careers. [Photo by Rebecca Bauer]
It's a special achievement for any high school basketball team to have a player reach 1,000 career points. It's even more rare to have two players achieve that plateau while on the same team.

The Verona Lady Wildcats are definitely the exception to the rule. This season the Lady Wildcats have three varsity players who have crossed the 1,000-point threshold. Even more amazing, they are all juniors.

Verona's Tristan Carrasquillo, Jessica Smith and Jenna Chadd have all attained that rare statistic.

Since their freshmen season, Verona's big three have helped lead Missouri's sixth-ranked Class 1 Lady Wildcats squad to a 61-21 overall record.

"They are all good ballplayers," said Verona Head Coach Ryan Yates. "They are extremely unselfish. They really don't care about scoring statistics, just if the team won or lost."

The basketball culture has flourished the last 20 years in Verona. The Wildcats won a state title in 2003, and the Lady Wildcats have the potential to make a title run of their own this season.

"I just want to win," said Smith. "It doesn't matter if I'm the one scoring or not. Having three (1,000-point) scorers makes us really hard to defend. It would be really cool to make a final four."

Smith's teammates agree with that point of view.

"I don't care who scores or even if I'm the leading scorer," said Chadd. "I want to do whatever it takes to help the team win. A state title would be nice too."

"If you score 20 points and lose, it's still a loss," said Carrasquillo. "I try to hustle and help the team as much as possible. When the game starts I try to play hard and help the team win."

Having three prolific scorers would drive some coaches mad trying to make sure each player gets their shots in each game, but Yates explains these girls are different.

"They want to make our team better," said Yates. "Each day in practice they lead by example. I think we are unique, because they are so team oriented. When they are on the court, they look for the open player and work to get a good shot. It's a lot of fun to coach them."

Carrasquillo, Chadd and Smith started playing organized basketball together when they were 5 years old and each has dreams of playing on the collegiate level.

"First, I want to be the valedictorian of my class," said Chadd, "and then go to college somewhere and play ball."

Carrasquillo shares Chadd's vision.

"College coaches want to see hustle," explained Carrasquillo. "I want to impress them with my hard play. If I could choose where I could go and continue my career, I would say Drury and UMKC."

"I have put a lot of time into playing basketball," added Smith. "It would be cool to play college ball."

Verona fans have been spoiled by these girls and can rest assured that more wins are in the future.

"These girls could go out on the court and score more points," said Yates. "We would win a lot less. But because of their teamwork, maturity and leadership, we are a hard team to play. That is a rare combination in today's basketball society."

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