Tasia Jeffries is one of the senior leaders of the Butler High School girls basketball team, which has won two of the past three state titles and was the No. 1-ranked team in The Courier-Journal’s preseason coaches poll.
So far this season the 5-foot-8 senior combo guard is averaging 11.2 points per game for the Bearettes (12-1). She also leads the team in made 3-pointers (22) while shooting 51.5 percent from the field and 85.7 percent from the free-throw line.
Q: How and when did you start playing basketball?
A: I started playing unorganized when I was 3 years old. My mom would take me to the park and I used to play with all the other kids. I started playing officially in third grade in church leagues and the YMCA. Then I started AAU in fifth grade and that’s when I started taking it more seriously.
Q: What has high school been like?
A: It was a big decision to come here because my home school was Eastern. My brother and my sister (go and) went to Eastern. I came in with four of the girls (Jaelynn Penn, Teri Goodlett, Janna Lewis and Bre Torrens) I’ve been playing with since I was in fifth grade, and we all decided to come here and play together and enjoy high school together. So I feel like that’s been great. It turned out to be what we wanted and everything’s been going well. I feel like I’ve progressed more as a player and grown as a person because of the program that I came to, because Coach (Larry) Just, he worries about us and he takes care of us on the court and off the court.
Q: What was it like winning it all last year?
A: I think everybody focused on the (semifinal) game against E-town. We didn’t make it the year before so just to be there it was like, I don’t want to say a gift, but we were very appreciative of being there. We took it more seriously. We had experience. We were juniors. So we had to help lead the team. We had to come in with the confidence of knowing that we could handle anything that was coming our way, and that’s what we did and we were able to pull through.
Q: What was it like not to make it to State your sophomore year?
A: It was rough. You went in your freshman year and everybody looks at you and the first thing they want to say is, ‘So you’re going to win all four (years,’ because you got that first one and that’s what you need to be able to even win the second one. There was a lot of attention and buzz going around about all of us. It was fun, but it was also a lot of pressure on us to seem perfect. I don’t think we handled it well. It was a combination of a lot of things like team chemistry because we lost players and new players came in. We didn’t handle it as well as it should have and that obviously showed.
Q: You say a lot of the girls call you the “team mom.” Do you like that?
A: I don’t really mind because somebody has to get stuff done. I guess it’s a good thing, because I make sure everybody is OK. It’s fine with me.
Q: What are the expectations for this season?
A: It’s our senior year, so we wanted to do the best we could. We had aspirations of going undefeated. That obviously isn’t possible anymore, but we still have our goal of going back to State and winning the state title again.
Q: What’s it going to take to do that?
A: It’s going to take us being focused and not letting anything in to distract us and obviously coming in prepared and knowing that everybody is going to be giving us their biggest shot. Being able to handle all that while still staying close together.
Q: You’ve signed to play basketball at Saint Louis. What are you going to major in?
A: I’m going into pre-law. I actually got accepted last week into the law program. I was really nervous because I knew I was going to get accepted into the school, but it’s a whole separate application for the law program, so I was really nervous about that, but I got in so it’s all good.
TASIA JEFFRIES UP CLOSE
Student-athlete: Tasia, who has a 4.2 GPA, says her favorite subject is English.
Family: Tasia, 17, lives with her mother, Deanna Williams; her brother, Jemari Williams, 16, who is a junior at Eastern; and her grandmother, Brenda Williams.
Butler coach Larry Just says: “From a leadership standpoint she’s somebody who helps look over our team, take care of us as much as she can, as well as on the floor she takes care of the basketball. She just does a lot of things. She can shoot the ball. She’s very versatile for us in terms of what she brings to us between the lines. Off the court, she’s just an outstanding young lady (and) super student.”