Coach Mike Hamburger says senior guard Courtney Jacob is "the epitome of Barron Collier basketball."
She's the school's all-time leading scorer with 1,513 points but her importance to the Cougars' success goes far beyond putting the ball in the hoop. Jacob is an outstanding defender, distributor and rebounder.
Most importantly, she's an outstanding teammate and friend — qualities which make her the undeniable leader of a state championship squad.
Jacob was at her best during the Cougars' run to the state title, doing whatever was needed to help Barron Collier win the first basketball title in the history of Southwest Florida high school sports. She was named tournament MVP at the Class 5A Final Four at Lakeland and for her efforts, she's the Naples Daily News Prep of the Week.
"When you look at Courtney, she's the ultimate team player," Hamburger said. "She averaged over 16 points a game but very rarely did she get 15 shots in a game, let alone 20. She gets steals, she gets assists, she gets rebounds, she does it all. But she's also an outstanding teammate and friend to all the girls on our team. Her leadership is one of the big reasons we're state champions."
Jacob's even-keel attitude has served her well, and that demeanor rubbed off on her teammates.
"She keeps things in perspective, she never gets too up or too down," Hamburger said. "Some kids will have a rough game and it affects them, they become quiet or withdrawn. Courtney isn't like that. She could have a rough game personally but she's still upbeat with her teammates. She rarely lets the disappointment show."
The Cougars were able to exorcise demons from past seasons, knocking off Fort Lauderdale Dillard in the regional quarterfinals. Dillard eliminated Barron Collier in each of the last two seasons, and Jacob was on the floor for both losses.
"That Dillard game was big, I believed in our team before but I really started believing we could do something special when we won that game," she said. "It was payback for the last two years."
Wins over Sebastian River and Miami Jackson followed to punch the Cougars' ticket to Lakeland. The Cougars then beat Largo in the state semifinals to earn a matchup with Winter Haven, ranked first in the state and No. 15 by USA Today.
- VIDEO: BC honors basketball team
- VIDEO: Barron Collier 2006 Class 5A State Champs
- AUDIO: Class 5A state championship game media
- PHOTO GALLERY: Cougars win state
- PHOTO GALLERY: Cougars before the big game
- RELATED: BC celebrates landmark title (02-28-06)
- RELATED: Greg Hardwig: Naples, Barron both did SW Florida proud (02-28-06)
- RELATED: Prep of the Week: Jacob leaves winning legacy (02-28-06)
- RELATED: SI rates Barron 16th in country (02-28-06)
- RELATED: Cougars win state (02-25-06)
- RELATED: Jacob stays cool with the game on the line (02-25-06)
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Barron Collier wasn't intimidated, leading the entire way in a 43-36 win. Jacob led the way with 11 points, including four clutch free throws in the game's final minute. She also had three assists and two steals and one emphatic block in the game's closing minutes to finish her Cougars career with a sparkling record of 100-17.
"What I'll remember about the state title game was how good our defense was," Jacob said. "And for me personally, that block I had at the end of the game is something that I will always look back on. They were making a run at us late in the game and I blocked one of their three-point shooters. That play put a big smile on my face."
Jacob hopes to play in college, and Hamburger expects the offers to roll in, especially from the Division II level.
"If Courtney can't play at Division II, I can't coach a lick," Hamburger said. "With her size and all-around game, she'd be an asset to any Division II team. Most of those teams have guards that are 5-7 or 5-8, Courtney would immediately be a matchup problem at that level."
• OTHERS CONSIDERED FOR PREP OF THE WEEK:
• Barron Collier — Girls basketball players Kasey Will and Kelsey Assarian were named to the All-Tournament team at the Final Four. Will scored 16 points in a semifinal win against Largo, and Assarian scored eight points and pulled down nine rebounds in the championship game against Winter Haven.
• Naples — Girls basketball players Marlena Elbert and Jess Gary combined for 29 of their team's 40 points in a 51-40 loss to top-ranked Astronaut in the Class 4A semifinal game.
• Immokalee — Baseball pitcher Chad Masters tossed a five-hit shutout with 15 strikeouts in a 2-0 win over Golden Gate.