Sophomore Jayla Strickland excelling for CCA girls basketball

REBOUND: Crossroads Charter Academy sophomore Jayla Strickland (42) jumps for a rebound earlier this season. (Courtesy photo/Rob Henderson)

REBOUND: Crossroads Charter Academy sophomore Jayla Strickland (42) jumps for a rebound earlier this season. (Courtesy photo/Rob Henderson)

BIG RAPIDS — Jayla Strickland is only a sophomore but she’s expecting plenty of herself in her second season on the Crossroads Charter Academy varsity girls basketball team.

So far, she’s played an instrumental role in her team’s 6-0 start.

“She was honorable mention all-conference as a freshman,” CCA coach Jason Eads said. “She averaged close to a double-double last year with eight points and eight rebounds a game.”

Strickland said last season was a good learning experience for her.

“I was pretty nervous getting moved up my freshman year,” Strickland said. “I had great teammates and they helped me out with some things.”

She played center, where she’s at this season at 6-foot-1.

“I have more responsibility now,” she said. “Offensively, I’m working to improve my game more.”

Strickland started out with 19 points and 12 rebounds on Dec. 1 against Marion and followed that up with 20 points and 12 rebounds against Pentwater. She had 12 points and nine rebounds against Onekama and had 15 points and 10 rebounds against Bear Lake.

“You want to have good position and box out a lot and be aggressive when you’re (trying) to get the ball,” Strickland said of her rebounding strategy.

Eads has seen improvement from Strickland.

“She played some AAU ball in the spring,” Eads said. “She played in a couple of elite camps and got her confidence going. She played a lot more basketball. She’s starting to see her potential. When she’s in there, she’s a big factor for us.”

Strickland said layups and putbacks are among her strongest offensive weapons, and she’s working on her jump shot.

“You have to do that within the flow of the offense,” she said.

Her role is different this season, Eads said.

“It’s more this year,” he said. “Last year, we brought her off the bench, but she played starter minutes. I had a lot of seniors last year. She got a lot of minutes. This year, we look for her to score even more and have more of a defensive presence.”

Teamwork and effective communication has keyed her team’s 6-0 start, Strickland said.

“Staying positive and having fun is the main thing,” she said. “I believe we can do really well as long as we stay together as a team and work our hardest in practice and in games.”

CCA resumes action at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart on Monday. Strickland expects it to be her team’s toughest test of the season.

“Communication, executing our plays, playing (well) defensively and boxing out like we know we can, having fun and playing our game,” will be keys in beating Sacred Heart, Strickland said.


Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at

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