Hopkins girls basketball seniors provide two sides of leadership

  • Hopkins Academy's Samantha Jenks, right, drives the ball past Montachusett's Emily St. Thomas March 13, 2019 during the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Thea Hanscom, left, Arya-Jane Mitchell, Samantha Jenks and Allison Kowal Safron celebrate March 13, 2019 after winning the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal against Montachusett at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins senior Samantha Jenks shoots against Montachusett Tech, Wednesday in the state semifinal. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Mount Everett's top scorer Gwendolyn Carpenter, right, is turned back by Hopkins Academy defenders Allison Kowal Safron, left, AJ Mitchell and Samantha Jenks in the second half of the Golden Hawks' 76-64 win over the Eagles in the Western Massachusetts Division 4 Championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 9, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • AJ Mitchell, front left, of Hopkins Academy, moves the ball against Audrey LaValley, of Ware, during the Western Massachusetts Division 4 semifinal, March 4 at Curry Hicks Cage. Samantha Jenks, top left, looks on while defended by Olivia Vadnais. Jenks and Mitchell are senior captains for the Golden Hawks. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hopkins Academy's AJ Mitchell, left, looks to pass the ball under pressure from Montachusett's Ashley Girouard March 13, 2019 during the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy senior guard Samantha Jenks (13) leaves the floor in the waning seconds of the Golden Hawks' 76-64 win over Mount Everett in the Western Massachusetts Division 4 Championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Greeting her are, from left, head coach Mike Prattico and teammates AJ Mitchell, Allison Kowal Safron, Sara Beauchamp and Kasey Earle. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 3/15/2019 8:24:41 PM

HADLEY — Hopkins Academy senior captains Samantha Jenks and AJ Mitchell provide the Golden Hawks with two different, complementary styles of leadership.

Jenks administers a steady hand as the point guard and floor general. She scored her 1,000th point as a junior. She exudes calm in the huddle and brings her team to an even keel when they fray.

“Sammy is that old school captain where she keeps everybody in line and makes sure we’re 100 percent focused every day,” Hopkins coach Mike Prattico said.

It’s a position she’s earned in her six years on varsity, even if she wasn’t always ready for it.

“I’ve learned over the past couple years how to compose myself and be a leader,” Jenks said. “If my teammates are getting flustered or we’re not playing well we can get everyone together and calm down.”

Mitchell, conversely, fires everyone up. She brings an infectious energy to practice and games.

“AJ makes things fun,” Prattico said. “She’s always going to give you 100 percent.”

In a way Mitchell is making up for lost time. She tore her ACL halfway through her sophomore basketball year. It didn’t recover the way she hoped, so Mitchell had another surgery during January of her junior year, knocking her out for the rest of the year.

“It was a lot,” Mitchell said. “It took a toll on me mentally and physically.”

Her return for her senior season sparked the Golden Hawks. Even Prattico, in his first year of coaching, noticed the difference.

“You could tell the first couple weeks the girls were excited about it,” he said. “They knew what AJ could provide for the team, and they went and ran with it.”

Their attitudes stabilize each other and provide a strong foundation for Hopkins’ success.

“Our attitudes balance each other well,” Jenks said.

They’ll play on the basketball court together for the final time when Hopkins faces Boston Cathedral in the state Division 4 championship at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at WPI. Whether they win or lose, they’re ending their careers with a dream season.

“It’s anything I’ve ever wanted and more. The girls have made it my best last year,” Jenks said. “Even if we didn’t win a title, even if we didn’t make it far in tournament, the year we had left me with so many with so many memories I can be proud about.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.



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