Jalyn Shelton-Burleigh has fond memories of the final win last season for the State College girls’ basketball team.
She was on fire throughout the game, but especially in the first quarter to help the Lady Little Lions to a big early lead and a 51-50 win over Mount Lebanon in the first round of the PIAA Class AAAA tournament.
“That game was fun,” the senior forward said. “It was just an exciting game, and just a competitive game. We all came together to get that win, and it was a solid win for us.”
Another basketball season is about to tip off, and ironically it will be those two teams meeting again to start the season — on the same court. The Lady Little Lions and Blue Devils will meet Friday night in Altoona’s Tipoff Tournament.
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Shelton-Burleigh, who signed a National Letter of Intent to attend and play for Lock Haven last month, will hope to duplicate that performance against Mount Lebanon — and for the rest of the season.
She made her first six field goals in that game and 8 of 11 for the night, scored 13 points in the first quarter and finished with 19 points and nine rebounds.
Shelton-Burleigh showed flashes of what was possible even before that night in Altoona.
“Jay loves the game,” coach Bethany Irwin said. “She’s got a big heart. She loves every aspect of the game — the competition, the practice, hanging out with a great group of kids. It’s a full thing for her.”
Playing AAU basketball in the offseason, practicing and honing her skills, she feels she has improved. She has been working on her post moves, her ball-handling, getting stronger under the basket and expanding her shooting range.
“If you can give me 20 points in one game, you should be doing it in every game or at least get close to that,” Irwin said. “I’m hoping the consistency through her performance is going to be there every game. She’s worked hard on that.”
Irwin is hoping the senior can give her more consistency, and give the Lady Little Lions a solid 1-2 combination in the paint.
The team’s biggest threat is junior Kyla Irwin, who has given an oral commitment to defending national champion Connecticut.
Shelton-Burleigh was second on the team last season with her averages of 10.5 points and 7.5 rebounds a game.
“Jalyn has a nice offensive presence on the boards,” Bethany Irwin said, “and she has a nice shooting range.”
Other schools made offers or at least expressed interest, but Shelton-Burleigh settled on Lock Haven fairly easily.
“I couldn’t picture myself anywhere else,” she said, planning to focus on business administration and sports management, hoping maybe to become a sports agent down the road.
“Just talking to her through the process, trying to find the perfect fit,” Bethany Irwin said. “There were a couple other schools that contacted me about her, but she said, ‘You know, I just really like Lock Haven.’”
With the college choice out of the way, and a season ready to tip off, the senior has her eyes focused on another big season for the Lady Little Lions.
“I’m very excited to get the season started,” Shelton-Burleigh said. “It’s going to be a fun ride and I can’t wait to see how the season plays out.”