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Gay plays strong down the stretch for Greer girls

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The clock is ticking on senior Jessica Gay’s high school basketball career at Greer High School.

Her final season has been an adjustment playing point guard for the first time. The one-point loss to Chapman, 30-29, last Friday circled Feb. 9 as her final game that will be played at Blue Ridge.

“We were inexperienced at point guard and we asked Jessica to play out of position as our younger players developed,” said Greer Girls Head Coach Carlton Greene. “She has done a good job for us.”

“It was hard for me because I wasn’t use to playing point guard and my ball handling skills are not my strongpoint,” Gay said. “Once you get use to bringing the ball up with pressure it’s really not that bad.”

Gay understood her role was needed for her mature senior leadership while sacrificing her scoring. She plays with a tenacity that is not missed on opposing players and officials. During a Christmas tournament at Eastside Gay subtly, but firmly, sent a message to an opponent that regardless of Greer’s deficit, every matchup with her would be met with resistance. A sprawling player forgot to watch where Gay’s feet were on a fast break.

During last Friday’s game versus Chapman, Gay tipped an inbounds pass out of bounds with 2.1 seconds left and Greer down by one point. She immediately pointed to her opponent as the culprit and the official agreed. Gay only smiled when asked about that play after the game. There have been fouls that Gay committed that were borderline intentional based on their physicality.

Travis Perry, Greer athletic director, was observing the Chapman game when he was asked about Gay’s tenaciousness. “Jessica is a real sweet girl,” Perry said.

Gay understood she would be sacrificing personal gratification this year for the good of the team. “I can provide senior leadership. It’s frustrating losing game after game. I feel bad that we didn’t have a good season for the seniors. We’ve done well in the past years. As a team, I think we have formed a good bond. We’re a close team.”

Gay’s scoring suffered since she was the shooting guard in previous years. “It’s affected my scoring but that’s not what I’ve been asked to do?”

College basketball is in Gay’s plans. Russ Gregg, Erskine head women’s coach, came to watch her play at Spartanburg Christian Academy. “I wasn’t nervous when I found out he was coming. I’m use to college scouts being at games looking at players,” she said.  “I would love to play college basketball, but if it didn’t work out I would play intramurals.”

Anderson and North Greenville have also shown an interest, although Gay said she would like a school with a little more distance between her home and NGU.

Gay said her biggest booster in basketball has been her father, Stephen Gay, general manager at Greer Country Club. “I look up to him a lot,” Gay said. “He’s been my summer coach and we often play outdoors a lot.” Gay said that their games are intense but won’t say whom get gets the upper hand. “He’s pretty good,” is all she allows.

Willis Holiday, who is the executive director of Holiday Hoops, a camp and AAU traveling team, has been a valuable aid to Gay. “Every summer for the past two to three years I have gone to him for help. “Willis doesn’t take it easy on you, but he has helped me a lot.”

Gay’s family has been fostering a one-year old boy of late. “He’s so precious I love him. He came to us because a friend needed our help,” Gay said.

That’s exactly what got Gay committed to playing out of position to help Greer’s basketball team in a greater cause. 

Greer is home tonight vs. Clinton and Feb. 9 vs. Southside Christian Academy. They play at Union County Friday night and at Blue Ridge Feb. 9.  Greer plays at Clinton tonight and at Blue Ridge Tuesday.

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