Jasmine McDonald is an expert thief.
Challenge her on the court, and in all probability you’ll end up empty-handed.
Her number of steals in River Ridge’s 28 games this season is eye-popping – 185, for an average of 6.6 per game – and she also tallied more than 450 steals in her four-year career.
She knows all too well how to pick the pockets of opposing players, which often leads to fastbreak points in favor of the Hawks.
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“Since I was little, I know where passes are going,” McDonald said. “It’s an instinct.”
The Olympian’s all-area girls basketball player of the year did it all for River Ridge this season, leading the Hawks to a second straight 2A Evergreen Conference title and Southwest District IV title, and a third-place finish at last weekend’s state tournament in Yakima. She also was named to the all-tournament second
team, averaging 14 points and six steals in three games at the SunDome.
While the 5-foot-7 McDonald is racking up steals, she’s also doing damage elsewhere. She can penetrate to the basket or step back and drill a 3-pointer. She has the ability to create and set up shots for her teammates, as well as step up during crunch time.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” River Ridge coach Tom Kelly said. “If the game is on the line, there’s no person you want to have on your side more than Jasmine McDonald.”
She was a unanimous pick as the 2A EvCo most valuable player, averaging 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 6.6 steals in her first year in the point-guard role. It’s a position she switched to full time early in the season.
Point guard Samira McDonald, Jasmine’s younger sister who was a first-team all-state player last year as a sophomore, tore her anterior cruciate ligament in her knee in the opening minutes of a 61-43 loss to Wilson in December. It took some time for the team to adjust, as well as shuffling the starting lineup by moving Jasmine from shooting guard to point guard. Through five games, the Hawks’ record was 2-3.
“She’s the leader of that team,” Kelly said. “She filled right in and turned it around.”
The Hawks went on a 21-game winning streak, putting up an average of 69.4 points a game on their way to an unbeaten conference season and another district title. River Ridge made it to the state semifinals before losing to Burlington-Edison, 56-49, in Yakima. The Hawks bounced back in a big way, using their swarming defense to defeat EvCo rival Chehalis, 51-29, to earn third place and finish with a 24-4 record.
There’s no doubt McDonald was the team’s igniter on offense and defense. As the number of steals climbed throughout the season, so did her school records for steals in a season and a career. The frenetic, nerve-frazzling, in-your-face defensive scheme makes perfect use of River Ridge’s all-around team speed. The Hawks averaged 16.2 steals a game, with McDonald getting more than a third of them. She’s had double-digit steals five times, including a season-high 13 in a 70-47 win over Eatonville that sent River Ridge to the elite eight round of state.
And it’s the style of play she and her teammates love and thrive in. In Kelly’s two seasons as head coach, the Hawks have totaled 882 steals.
A four-year starter, McDonald was part of the most successful run in school history – three league titles, three district titles, and three state trophies (including two state titles), and a 91-19 win-loss record. She was able to share those state titles with her older sister, Keisha (2008), and younger sister, Samira (2010).
“To me, it’s special,” McDonald said.