St. Paul senior basketball forward Austin Jones and Terryville junior shooting guard McKenzie Huria share “Athlete of the Week” honors for area high school sports.
Jones, the son of Joye and Chris Jones of Plainville, has been a steady performer for coach Steve Phelps the past couple of years. He has won numerous honors, including second team All-State Class S and NVL All-Copper Division honors for his play this past season, while also being selected for both the Connecticut High School Coaches All-Star and CO Academy Sports All-Star games.
Phelps had only good things to say about his senior leader.
“Austin’s hard work has paid significant dividends in the advancement of his skills,” Phelps said. “He posted double-doubles for points and rebounds in more than half of our games this past season. Austin has dedicated himself to become the best player he possibly can be and has progressed in each of his four years at St. Paul Catholic.
“He has not yet maxed out his ability. With continued focus and passion, we believe Austin can successfully accomplish the goals he has set for himself. I appreciate the opportunity he has afforded me to play a small part in his development to date.”
The Falcons finished with a 17-7 overall record and were a Class S state quarterfinalist this past season.
“I think we had a good season,” Jones said. “We had some experience, but didn’t have a lot of seniors. We had some players out the first half of the season, and a tough schedule. We were able to get some momentum going into the states.”
“It was helpful playing the first two games at home and the third game was tough, a hostile crowd and they were shooting well,” Jones added. “Our goal was to have made it to Mohegan, the finals.”
Jones said that he has received a lot out of playing the sport for his school over the past four seasons.
“Just facing adversity, you aren’t going to win all of the time, bouncing back after losses,” Jones said. “It’s not to be selfish and to think about everyone else.”
He also leaves advice for younger athletes.
“Keep working hard and follow your dreams,” Jones said. “Even when people tell you can’t do something, just keep chasing your goals.”
He’ll head to college in the fall for psychology, while also continuing to play basketball.
McKenzie, the daughter of Sandy and Thomas of Plymouth, has been playing basketball since third grade. She will, once again, be a key player for Terryville next year, likely as a captain.
“She’s been a two-year starter,” Terryville coach Tom Morgan said. “She’s a good shooter, good player. She probably loves basketball more than any other kid that’s been on the team the last four or five years. You get a kid who plays two or three sports, she has one and really concentrates on it. She’s really dedicated to basketball.”
McKenzie believes Terryville could have won a game or two more during the season than the four they did, and hopes her senior season will bring more victories.
“It went pretty well,” Huria said. “We beat some teams that we didn’t expect to. We did play very well and hard this season. We had some close games and were able to pull out wins.”
Looking ahead, she added, “We are losing Zoe Jabs, Joanna Johnson and Michaela Descault, three starters this past season. Myself and sophomore Lauren Jacobs return next season and we have a good amount of size coming up. I think we’ll do well next year.”
Asked how she has benefitted from playing both basketball and volleyball for Terryville, she said: “I learned how to work with a team. I definitely made a lot of friends playing sports. The overall experience is amazing. Being a part of a team is like family.”
As far as the younger athletes go at school, she had some advice.
“Try hard, never give up and keep practicing because good things come to those who work,” Huria said.
Contact Bob Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org