Alvarez boosts Pirates with leadership

First Posted: 1/16/2010

LUMBERTON During warmups, Jensine Alvarez appears to be a mild-mannered girl with eyeglasses and a sweet smile for everyone she sees.
But once the buzzer sounds and its time to face-off with her opponent, the glasses come off, the smile disappears and Alvarez becomes one of the fiercest competitors in Robeson County.
Alvarez laughed when she thought about the comparison between Clark Kent and Superman.
“I like that,” Alvarez said. “It’s like the other team doesn’t think I can see without the glasses and then they are like ‘wow, oh she can see.'”
Although she is the leading scorer and rebounder on the Lumberton girls basketball team, Alvarez is not a one-person show for the Pirates this season.
“She’s the key to our success,” Lumberton coach Danny Graham. “She’s our emotional leader and gets the others pumped up. Also, she can play all five positions on the court and that’s a big asset to have.”
Before her team’s win over Richmond on Friday, Alvarez averaged 15.2 points, grabbed 8.8 rebounds and dished out 1.5 assists per game. Brandi McKinney and Keanna McNeill are also scoring in double figures for the Pirates, while Demilia Brooks and Leandra Oxendine are just under.
Alvarez says she pushes her teammates to score more, rather than allowing the team to completely rely on her at the offensive end.
“I tell them I except them to run with me, or I will just take it and score myself,” Alvarez laughingly said. “When they run with me, I tell them to be ready to catch the ball otherwise it will hit them in the head. Honestly, I think they see what I’m doing and they are going out and doing it as well.”
Alvarez admits they are times when she tries to force to get her teammates involved in the offense.
“I will be wide open and I will see somebody else open and I will try to force it to get them the ball,” Alvarez said. “When I do that, I do something stupid with the ball. My coaches and even my dad tell me that I was wide open and to shoot it.”
“She would really rather pass the ball than like a shot when she has the chance,” Graham said.
Besides her offensive abilities, Alvarez is aware of her contributions on the defense will keep her in her coach’s good graces.
“All we really do is run and work on our defense,” Alvarez said about Graham’s practices. “He says defense wins games. He says he are going to wear the other team out. We get so many layups doing the games because of that. He says ‘Killing the gnat with a sledgehammer.’ That’s his big thing.”
Even though Graham knows his junior is trying hard on the defensive end, he wants her to keep improving.
“She has a chance to be really special,” Graham said. “I want her to keep getting better on defense.”
While Lumberton has been able to slay most of the opponents on the schedule this season, Alvarez claims there is one of the team’s two losses that stings the most, the 52-41 defeat to Jack Britt in the finals of the Robeson County Shootout. She added she still thinks about that game.
“That one really hurt,” Alvarez said. “I hate the fact it was against a team that is not even in our county. We weren’t as focused in the first half as we could have been.”
While Alvarez is concentrating on winning the Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament titles this year and next, she is just beginning to ponder her collegiate choices.
“Coach told me N.C. State called about me,” Alvarez said. “UNCP’s coach is interested in me as well. I really haven’t thought about college.”

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