Basketball: Girls made state grade

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Albany basketballer Jessica Jackson’s steady rise towards professional ranks has been boosted by her repeat selection in the WA State under-18s country girl’s team .

Jessica, 16, made the cut last year along with Denmark’s Parris Laurie and Anika Renkema.

But this year she is joined in the 10-girl team by fellow Albany player and Raiders under-18 girl’s development squad star Jorden Tester.

It was the first time 16-year-old Jorden had tried out for State selection and she admitted it was an anxious time.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking because they all rocked up carrying their big State bags and wearing State colours,” she said.

“But even after one training, I felt like a better player.”

The Year 12 Albany Senior High School student is sure her selection, which takes her to the 2012 Australian under-18 Championships in Perth this April, is a positive stepping stone to achieving her goal of one day representing the nation.

“When I was a little kid I always said to dad that I wanted to play for the Opals, so this has given me a bit of enthusiasm,” she said.

“I want to become a better player and improve my court awareness and general game.”

Jessica, whose aunt Dianne Martin represented WA in netball and basketball, said she looked forward to playing alongside Jordan, but conceded the team still had plenty of room for improvement.

“Three of the youngest players from last year are back in and the team is a lot shorter, but it is looking good.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do though.”

Craig Watts has replaced Craig Mansfield as the side’s coach in 2012.

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