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Jackson is the spark plug the Arabs needed

January 09, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

There are many differences in this year's Imperial Valley College women's team — a bit more height, more athleticism and better chemistry.

What the Arabs lacked last year probably more than anything was a spark plug. So in the off season coach Jill Tucker got herself a spark plug in 5-foot-4 Miami resident LaToya Jackson.

Jackson has taken over as IVC's point guard and has helped the Arabs to a 13-8 record. On Friday she scored 14 points as IVC defeated Compton College 80-56.

"At first when we came out and saw them we were a little intimidated by them," said the 18-year-old Jackson. "But then we just went out and played our game."

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The game the Arabs have played this year has been an offensive one, with most wins coming by double digits. But scoring isn't what concerns Jackson. She leaves that to the front-court triumvirate of Jello Moore, Jessica Prock and Sandra Ramos. Jackson's job is to create situations for her teammates to score. So far this year, she has.

From Dec. 28-30, Jackson played some of her best ball for the Arabs in the College of the Desert tournament.

In IVC's first game of the tournament she scored eight points and dished eight assists in a loss to Lassen College. She followed with a 15-point, five-assist, three-rebound, three-steal performance in the team's win over Cuyamaca College. In the final day of the tournament she finished with eight assists as the Arabs upset the No. 9 team in the state, Pasadena City College.

In high school Jackson primarily played shooting guard, not as a scoring threat but as a defensive specialist. You'd never be able to tell she never played point guard previously as she's made a smooth transition into the new position.

While it is one of the most difficult positions to learn, Jackson has taken it in stride.

"Our team needs a point guard. So that's what I'm playing. When I'm out there I don't look to score, I try to get the ball to my teammates," said Jackson. "I'm just looking to make the team better."

Said Tucker: "She's not a real offensive threat, but her presence on the court does make the team better. Her job is to play defense and distribute the ball and when she does score we consider that a bonus."

Jackson has been nursing an injured right ankle, which she sprained in September. According to Tucker, she re-aggravates the ankle every practice. But Jackson plays through the pain and has been an all-around asset to the Arabs.

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