LaFleur's talent speaks for itself

Basketball: The modest Bel Air senior won't brag about her many accomplishments, but she needs only 12 points to reach 1,000 for her career.

High Schools

January 30, 2000|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Bel Air's Jacque LaFleur had a little time to kill before the Bobcats' basketball game with C. Milton Wright on Jan. 19, so she decided to total her career points.

She found out that she needed only 28 more to become the first girl in school history to reach 1,000. The discovery surprised her, but no one else.

"I walked down and told my parents and they smiled and said, `Everybody knows -- [coach Valerie] Cooper, your teammates, everybody but you. They didn't want to tell you, because they didn't want to put any pressure on you.' "

That night, LaFleur, who averages 17.3 points per game, scored 16 to reach 988, but snow has put her quest for the last 12 on hold ever since. The waiting hasn't been all bad, however, because with three away games snowed out, LaFleur likely will hit 1,000 at home.

Barring yet another postponement, she should reach the milestone tomorrow when the Bobcats play host to Kenwood at 5 p.m. The Bobcats also play at home at 5 p.m. Tuesday vs. Edgewood.

Now that LaFleur knows she's so close to 1,000, does she feel the pressure? "Well, we have 10 games left, so I'm pretty sure I'll make it," she said with a laugh.

That's as close as LaFleur will come to boasting about her accomplishments, even though she ranks as one of the best athletes in Bel Air history.

The senior already is the school's all-time leading scorer in girls basketball as well as Harford County's all-time leading scorer in field hockey. For the last two years, she has had the top batting average on the Bobcats' softball team. In addition, her 4.08 grade-point average ranks seventh in a class of 365.

"She's not a person who puts everything out there and says, `Look at me,' " said Phyllis Hemmes, Bel Air athletic director and field hockey coach. "Jacque puts all that in the background and if [the attention] comes, it comes. She's not a gloater."

She doesn't need to be. Her game speaks for itself.

Averaging 14.1 points for her basketball career, she is also a strong rebounder. She still manages to grab six a game despite moving to the perimeter this season. She also contributes five steals, two assists and two blocks.

Her knack for scoring seems to come naturally in any sport. LaFleur finished her field hockey career with 53 goals and 22 assists and earned All-Metro second-team honors three straight years.

"She just has that natural fluidity, being in the right place and getting herself open," Hemmes said. "If she isn't, she looks for the other kids. If she had wanted to play soccer, she'd probably have been the leading scorer. Same thing if she had wanted to play lacrosse."

Offense is her forte in softball, as well. The Bobcats' starting shortstop and clean-up hitter since her freshman year, LaFleur has a .367 career batting average. In three years, she has struck out only 14 times.

Sports came easily for LaFleur, who started as a soccer and softball player, adding basketball in sixth grade and field hockey in ninth.

She honed her skills and knowledge, playing AAU basketball for the Chesapeake Bay Hurricanes and summer-league softball. Both sports have taken her to national tournaments.

Hemmes and Cooper said their only criticism of LaFleur has been that, at times, she can be unselfish to a fault.

"She's very team-oriented," Cooper said. "A good player wants to help raise her teammates to their optimal performance, and that's Jacque. She doesn't want to be successful -- she wants the team to be successful."

LaFleur hopes to play field hockey or basketball in college, but academics is driving her search. She leans toward a career as an accountant or in another business field.

Richard "Tree" Curran, her AAU basketball coach, would like to see LaFleur play basketball in college.

"I think she's a real sleeper [because she doesn't play on one of the area's best teams]," Curran said. "I've made some calls for her and told [college] coaches that if someone would take a chance on her, they wouldn't be sorry. She has the intelligence and the athletic ability to handle college athletics and she has not reached her potential."

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