Going against Fort Zumwalt West’s Jada Poland has been an exhausting and frustrating experience for opposing girls basketball teams. The senior forward has been an unstoppable force down in the paint and outside for the Jaguars as she sought to lead her club in its quest for a championship crown.
Poland, averaging almost 15.7 points a game, has been the Jaguars go-to player, especially heading into the district championship game [after presstime on March 4] against top-seeded Holt High. To get to the big game, Zumwalt West first had to defeat Timberland in the Class 5, District 3 semifinals on March 1 at Troy Buchanan. They did so in a tight confrontation that resulted in a 39-37 score.
Poland, who also leads the team in rebounding, was asked to step up her game as a senior – and has consistently delivered night after night. She also has grown fluidly into her leadership role, according to Jaguars coach Mandee Krueger.
“She kind of hid in the background in the past and was kind of the sneak attack that we had,” Krueger said. “This year the spotlight was on her and she definitely didn’t shy away from that. She’s been able to kind of get everybody under her wing as a leader because she does have this dynamic personality that just makes everybody smile.”
At 5-foot-9, Poland can score points on the baseline and also go out on the perimeter and score off the dribble, or knock down shots from the outside. She also has etched her place in the Zumwalt West history books by eclipsing the 1,466-point career scoring mark set by former teammate Lexi Moe. On Feb.5, against Francis Howell Central, Poland scored 16 points to break Moe’s career record.
She also set a school single-game record by scoring 40 points in a win over Metro in the Visitation Christmas Tournament.
An athletic and explosive swing player, Poland has the versatility to play most spots on the floor, but rebounding is where she tends to take over games with her superb leaping ability and her will to get loose balls. She worked hard last summer to become a solid outside shooter who can make defenses pay for sliding down near the basket. And, her ability to be a strong scorer from the outside has helped her become an all-around threat with the ball in her hands.
Defensively, Poland leads the Jaguars in steals, averaging nearly four per game.
Committed to the University of North Texas, Poland will be missed locally, but has big plans for her future.
She said she will miss being a Jaguar.
“I think the relationships that I have built with all of the girls on the teams and the friendships with the players and coaches are going to be what I really miss the most,” Poland said. “I could have never asked for a better group of girls to be with these last few years.”