Lennon, Mohonasen girls’ basketball’s lone senior, embracing mentor role on young team

Schalmont's Payton Graber takes a shot while being blocked by Mohonasen's Jahd'dah Lennon during a girls' basketball game Friday at Mohonasen High School.

Schalmont's Payton Graber takes a shot while being blocked by Mohonasen's Jahd'dah Lennon during a girls' basketball game Friday at Mohonasen High School.

It wasn’t the senior night that Jahd’dah Lennon ever would have imagined.

For one thing, the ceremony happened during the first game of her final season with the Mohonasen girls’ basketball team — and that first game was in mid-February, not late November or early December.

For another, there was no big, cheering crowd there to celebrate Lennon’s special night. 

In fact, the only spectator allowed in attendance for Friday’s game against Schalmont — aside from a couple district staff members and the crew livestreaming the game for those who could not come to the gym due to COVID-19 safety protocols — was Lennon’s mom, Lucy Freeman, who joined her daughter on the court for her senior ceremony at halftime.

“She’s definitely been there through all of it,” Lennon said following Friday’s game. “I’m glad that she was here.”

Lennon isn’t just Mohonasen’s only senior this season, the small forward is also a de facto big sister on one of the area’s youngest teams.

Lennon was the only Mohonasen player to suit up for Friday’s season-opening 74-25 loss who is older than 10th grade. The Warriors’ other four starters Friday night were three freshmen — Isabella Petrocci, Noelle Pietrefesa and Ava Quenneville — and seventh-grader Payton Whipple, while eighth-grader Caitlyn Richmond was the first player off the bench for head coach Doug Holden’s squad.

On a roster with more middle schoolers than seniors, Lennon’s experience as a mentor is vital.

“She’s the rudder on the team, for sure,” Holden said. “She keeps us going in a straight direction.”

Lennon said her younger — often, much younger — teammates have been appreciative of her role as the team’s lone veteran.

“They would text me and tell me, ‘I’m so glad I get to look up to you. I’m glad that I get to have you as a senior this year, and a captain,’ ” she said. “It’s amazing.”

For Holden, having such a young team for this pandemic-shortened season will allow vital building blocks to be set in place for the future.

Mohonasen isn’t fielding a junior varsity girls’ team this winter, meaning the Warriors’ youngsters will get plenty of varsity experience over the next month that should get the team in position for a long run as a group.

“We have a lot of talent coming up,” Holden said, “but we need that talent to work hard to get better. That’s exactly what we do every day in practice. 

“I have a 12-year-old seventh-grader on varsity, and she’s starting. That’s crazy. And she’s playing meaningful minutes. The future is very, very bright.”

Though the program’s focus is firmly on the seasons to come, for Lennon — who led the team with nine points in Friday’s opener — this winter is an opportunity she won’t take for granted.

“It was just amazing,” Lennon said of getting back on the floor Friday, “being able to get to play at all, especially with my team, [since] I know they’ve been working hard.” 

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

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