Jaynes hopes hoop records and titles are in reach

Sydney Jaynes is too good-natured.

“As a person, I want to make other people happy,” Jaynes said.

Such as letting a younger cousin win at a board game to make him feel good.

However, the 6-foot-3 low-post player has a job description that includes rebounding, blocking shots and if necessary, body-slamming opponents out of the lane.

Even her mother, Mary, says one thing that helps Sydney excel as a player and led to her being awarded an NCAA Division I school scholarship is her willingness “to do the dirty work.”

Although no such claim was made, it would not be surprising to learn Jaynes said, “Sorry” when she made an in-your-face block of a foe’s shot for 18-4 Trinity.

Many athletes are renowned for being cutthroat in endeavors other than their specialty. They can’t stand to lose at anything, so they won’t let their own kids win at Candyland or cards. Michael Jordan is famous for his fanatical desire to win every bet, every on-court game of H-O-R-S-E.

Jaynes may be headed to Butler University and big-time basketball after being the centerpiece of Trinity’s No. 1-ranked team in Class A during the 2020-21 season, but she thinks her competitiveness may be too limited for what awaits.

“I’m actually still working on that,” Jaynes said in a recent interview as she and her teammates prepared for Friday night’s first round of Indiana High School Athletic Association sectional play against 2-8 Shawe Memorial in Edinburgh. “I’m as hardcore as I want to be.”

This is a team that knows there are gift games in the playoffs but wishes to cap the season with a February run taking them to the state finals.

Shawe Memorial is Step 1. Saturday would be the sectional final, and then comes regional play.

“Hopefully, we’ll get more games,” Jaynes said.

Although it is secondary to the overall team success, the more games Jaynes plays, the more likely she is to establish a new girls school scoring record. It is currently held by Brittany Tabeling, the older sister of Jaynes’ teammate, Bailey Tabeling, with 1,593 points. Jaynes now has 1,536 points. The milestone wasn’t on her radar until someone pointed out how close she was getting.

“I was closer than I thought I was,” Jaynes said.

She could kill any suspense by avalanching 60 points through the hoop Friday. Jaynes doesn’t envision that happening, but she laughed and said, “I’ll take it.”

Versatility defines Jaynes’ game

When the buzzer sounded ending the Trinity Lutheran girls basketball team’s win over Madison a week ago, the announcer in the Bollinger Athletic Complex immediately reminded departing fans they had just seen Jaynes play her final home contest for the Cougars.

“I didn’t dwell on it,” Jaynes said on what marked essentially the end of a four-year era, or at least put a semicolon on it, if not a period quite yet because of the looming playoffs.

Even if the old-style, back-to-the-basket center has gone out of fashion, it is still not a bad skill to possess. But being able to maneuver down low and attract double teams is only part of what Jaynes provides.

For a big player, she is a deft ball-handler who can bring the ball up-court breaking the other team’s press. Holding the ball high over her head, she can ruin zone coverage. She wields power down low, but she can also hit the 3-pointer.

Jaynes averages around 19 points a game, rebounds with anyone and can be a roadblock to opposing teams’ dribblers, discouraging drives altogether, especially if she blocks the shot and catches it, essentially turning an offensive play into a turnover.

“She’s a point-center,” Trinity coach Mike Lang said of Jaynes’ offensive capability. “It has been a blessing for us to have her on our side. She’s a four-tool player. She scores, rebounds, passes and blocks shots. She uses the post and a lot of the perimeter. She is the best passing big I have been around. I have been spoiled by having a front-row seat for four years.”

There used to be a time when a player from a small school could be overlooked by major colleges. But between technology that introduced the highlight film, more sophisticated recruiting and the summer AAU circuit, if a player can play, she will be found.

Jaynes is a veteran of AAU play and said competing with other top girls from around the state and against other top teams has greatly benefited her. Lang said Jaynes is under consideration right now to be one of 12 girls tapped for the Indiana All-Star team that usually plays Kentucky.

Whether it was old-fashioned letters and phone calls, texts or whatever, Jaynes received steady recruiting attention from multiple coaches from near and distant places. Some days, it seemed her life was scheduled around those contacts.

“You don’t realize,” Jaynes said of how much time it takes up, flattering as being the focus is. “I’m the first one in my family who has gone through the recruiting phase.”

Once Jaynes committed to Butler and signed a letter of intent, it was a relief. Life became more relaxing with the decision made.

“On my gosh, yes,” she said.

Everyone in the Indiana girls basketball world knows who Jaynes is. She has made enough noise in high school and AAU play that players and coaches took note she was heading to Butler.

“I can’t even put into words how excited I am,” Jaynes said of that next chapter of her educational and basketball life starting in the fall.

She often hears people at away games say things like, “That’s the girl who’s going to Butler.” She likes that notoriety.

“I’m just known for going to play for Butler. It’s really cool for me,” she said.

Mom saw potential early

Mary Jaynes played basketball for Seymour High SChool and currently is an assistant coach for the Cougars.

When mother and daughter stand next to one another, they seem to be the same height. Not quite.

“I’m in high heels,” Mary said.

Her game was different than Sydney’s, too. At around 6-1, Mary was always an inside player. Sydney started shooting up in height between 10 and 12 years old, but Mary first thought her kid might be a pretty good player when she turned 13.

“She kept growing taller and didn’t lose her athleticism,” Mary said.

Mary played with her back to the basket in the low post. She did not dribble or pass with Sydney’s dexterity.

For some reason, even in middle school at St. John’s Sauers Lutheran School, Sydney said she gravitated to team drills that were more oriented toward guards.

“I grew up with the idea of sharing the ball,” Jaynes said. “We liked to make ‘pretty’ plays passing. I was the first one to jump into ball-handling drills. I do like ball-handling.”

What made Sydney a desirable commodity on the recruiting market, her mother thinks, is her ability to contribute in ways guards do but also having the eagerness to battle with other bigs close to the basket.

“Some people don’t want to do the work inside,” Mary said. “It’s very, very hard work.”

Many of those tasks, solid blocking out, getting in front of offensive players charging to the hoop, are not measurable in the box score and result in bruises. Coaches value those who do the little things well. Lang said the “dirty work” commitment takes a “certain mentality.”

During the recent 63-61 over Madison, on several occasions, Jaynes drew double-teams and fed to cutting teammates. When the defense sought to adjust, she capitalized on lay-ins and spinning shots in close.

“That was just a small sample of what she’s capable of doing,” Lang said. “We’re better when Syd gets her touches.”

Most teams the Cougars play, Lang said, understand Jaynes’ skill set but don’t have much practice going up against a tall player who cracks open the press or shoots from outside.

“Sydney has created such a reputation through the state and especially in southern Indiana, but teams don’t normally prepare for it,” Lang said.

Trinity thinks big for playoffs

This is a team with grand aspirations. The Cougars believe in themselves, believe they can show they are the best small-school team. The first step is always surviving sectional, which means winning twice this weekend.

But Trinity wants to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Washington’s real birthday Feb. 22 and travel through the year’s shortest month on a winning streak. The dream is of a state title.

“The girls want it so bad,” Jaynes said. “It wasn’t said at the beginning of the year. But then coach said, ‘What is your goal?’ We do have the talent. I think we can do it. We have the skill and ability. I’m so hyped.”

Jaynes is prepared to go all mean, hardcore and competitive if that’s what it takes for Trinity to take the trophy.