It’s the hoop and the harm. It’s the “and one.” It’s the count it and a foul.
The expressions all fit the old-fashioned basketball 3-point play. In fact, it’s fair to call it old school.
Grapevine girls basketball senior forward Jessi Prater is one who embraces the old-school approach to scoring. You can usually find her roaming around the block for the Lady Mustangs. That’s been a good thing for one of the team’s most consistent scorers. If she’s catching the ball down low, there’s a really good chance that the shot is going up and the contact will follow.
I don’t mind at all drawing the contact. I want to finish the play. I guess I’m a little of an enforcer.
- Grapevine senior forward Jessi Prater
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“It’s a lot easier for me to go harder to the basket, so I’ve really taken some work at finishing around it,” Prater said. “I don’t mind at all drawing the contact. I want to finish the play. I guess I’m a little of an enforcer.”
The presence inside helps the Lady Mustangs (18-10, 12-2 in District 8-5A), who are on their way to the postseason but also have had their scoring struggles. Grapevine has won games this year with 23 and 26 points. While head coach Lindy Slagle never turns down victories, she also understands that this team can’t win the playoffs if point totals are not breaking 30.
A two-year starter, Prater has emerged as one of the two main offensive threats, along with senior Tatum Tellin. Sophomore Symone Wesley has had her moments and will be important if Grapevine is going to last for a while in the postseason. But Prater (10 PPG, 3 RPG) has been the only Lady Mustang to break 20 points in a game this year. She’s done it three times.
“Jessi has a lot of ability and natural talent,” Slagle said. “We’re finding multiple ways of getting her the ball. “What we need for her is to be more consistent for four quarters. She has the ability to do that every time she gets on the floor. We’re just waiting for her to do that. We expect her to finish around the basket.”
Prater has developed a pretty decent jump shot. She can get hot from 3-point range. She had four 3-pointers Jan. 3 against Fort Worth Dunbar. But her strength is anywhere between 12-15 feet. That’s the kind of shot that take a team out of a zone defense. Prater is shooting 45 percent from the field.
Postseason opponents will determine if those shots are available. But Slagle is going to place Prater in the block. Grapevine will want to establish the post and create as many high-percentage looks as possible.
The more contact the better, because Prater is comfortable using her drop step, pivot and up-and-under moves. Prater is shooting 70 percent from the foul line. This is Prater’s third consecutive appearance in the postseason. As a sophomore, she played on the junior varsity but was moved up to the varsity for the playoffs.
“It was really exciting but I was really nervous, too, because I didn’t want to mess up when I got into the game,” Prater said. “But I’m really focused on what playoffs and what we have to do to be successful.”