Jeffery stands out on the inside Big on the boards: North Carroll graduate Michele Jeffery has taken her rebounding skills to Mansfield University.

February 09, 1996|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The cover of the Mansfield University women's basketball schedule card features junior forward Michele Jeffery pulling down a rebound.

The team's media guide lists the North Carroll graduate at 5-foot-10, but Jeffery says she's "kinda 5-9ish" in a way that leads you to believe she's probably closer to 5-8 than 5-10.

Through 20 games, Jeffery is second on the team in scoring (12 ppg.), assists (46) and steals (36), but it's her rebounding -- a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference-leading 11.8 a game -- that clearly stands out.

It's always been that way.

In her days at North Carroll, she dominated the boards playing in the middle "just because I was the tallest girl on the team." She led the Panthers to back-to-back county titles and a trip to the region final in her senior year.

Playing power forward at Mansfield, she still finds herself constantly going up against taller opponents. And still winning the inside battles.

"I love rebounding. It's always been a big part of my game," Jeffery said. "It's not much more different here than high school. You just have to work harder to get it."

First-year coach Jennifer Lynch, an assistant last season, expected a lot from Jeffery going into the season and hasn't been disappointed.

The Mountaineers (4-16) are a young team with only one senior and Jeffery has taken on a leadership role while logging an average of 30 minutes a game. Not surprising, it's her ability to rebound and how she goes about doing it that inspires her team most.

"She's a hard-nosed kid who's tough, not afraid to get in the middle of things. She's also one of the most intelligent players I've seen," said Lynch.

"It makes her a rebounding force offensively and defensively. At 5-8, she's always defending the other team's four player, which means she's usually going up against 6-1 and 6-2 players. She's

been very successful. It takes a lot of heart and she plays with a lot of heart."

North Carroll coach Greg Knill said Jeffery is still an influence.

"The kids we have today all saw her play. She's a role model," he said. "The two things that made her were her determination and tenacity. She also played with so much consistency. She just had the mentality 'I don't care as long as the ball is free, it's mine.' All that hard work she put in here is showing up at the next level."

So what's her secret?

"I don't know," Jeffery said. "I guess it's mostly strength and positioning. Offensively, it's knowing where the shot is going to come off. I've been around my teammates long enough now I can anticipate."

Along with basketball, Jeffery went to Mansfield University because of its strong education program. She's studying special education and will be student teaching next spring.

The Mountaineers are struggling, but Jeffery said the team has remained positive and is playing competitively, looking for something to build on.

Help is on the way with a couple of 6-footers coming in next year. Jeffery has a sense about next season. "I have a good feeling about next year," she said.

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