STAC GIRLS' BASKETBALL: ELMIRA'S DYNAMIC DUO A KEY TO THEIR SUCCESS (2022-01-20)
By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
What happens when you team up one of the top scorers in Section 4 with a player that coach A’Don Allen calls a walking mismatch?
If you are the Elmira girls the end result is a dominant combination that has the Express state ranked and hard to stop.
Jalea Abrams is averaging 20.2 points a game this year through 10 games, while teammate Megan Fedor averages a double-double at 15.4 points and 11.3 rebounds a contest.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Abrams said of playing with Fedor. “She does all the work. It helps definitely, because if they are keying on me, it’s open for her. If they are keying on her, it’s open for me.”
Both players know the tit’s hard to defend them both in a game.
“It’s amazing, it’s hard to guard both of us,” Fedor said. “Both of us being there is great.
“It opens up space, because she’s a great shooter, so you have to guard her all the way out.”
Elmira coach A’Don Allen knows that he has two of the best players in the section on his team.
“You have Gia (Jalea), who I’m her coach, and I’m a little biased, but I think she’s the best player in Section 4,” Allen said. “And, I don’t think Megan is very far behind. So, when you have two of the best players in the section on one team it’s great to have, it’s better when they are both so different.
“It’s one thing when you have two guards who are great, but when you have a guard and a big, you really have to kind of pick your poison. With Megan, she’s a mismatch because she’s not a typical six footer. She can shoot, she can handle, and then you have Gia, who can pretty much do it all on the perimeter. She can get to the rim. It’s very, very difficult and they are proving they can do the heavy lifting. When we get them help it’s very hard to control just the two of them.”
While both players put up big numbers this year, they also have both kind of switch on and off who leads them, depending on the matchups. Both players are fine having lower scoring nights as long as the team gets a win.
“It’s fantastic, they re two really, really awesome kids,” Allen said. “They’re both about team above everything. They want their stats, but they also understand if they don’t get their stats and we get the win, that’s what’s important, because the team goals for them come above everything else.
“They are both kids that are going to play at the next level. A lot of times when you have kids who are going to do that, they are playing for that, but they aren’t, they are playing for their teammates, they are playing for their school and they unselfishness is a big piece.”
Abrams, a 5-foot, 8-inch junior guard is one of the best shooters in the section, but she also knows if she does miss a shot, Fedor is there to help out.
“It’s good, she’s a great rebounder,” Abrams said.
Earlier this year Abrams had a 40-point game, with seven threes, one point and two threes behind the school records of her older sister, Zaria Thomas.
For Abrams that game helped her confidence.
“It boosted it, 100%,” Abrams said.
For Abrams, her older sister is a big part of the reason she’s playing basketball today.
“She’s the reason I wanted to play basketball to begin with,” Abrams said.
And, she really wanted her sister’s school record.
“I wanted to beat it so bad, but I’ll get it, I’ll get it,” she said.
After that game Thomas joked with her younger sister that she won’t be able to catch her record, but Abrams knows she can do it.
“She said all the time, it just proves you can’t beat me, but it’s not true,” Abrams said. “Watching her made me want to work 10 times harder, I just want to be better than her.”
For Fedor, having great guards makes her life easier as a post player.
“I think we have built a great duo on knowing where each other are and being able to play together,” Fedor said. “Gi (Jalea) always gives me amazing passes.”
Allen knows that his two stars have great chemistry on the court.
“The one cook thing about this team is they all love playing together,” Allen said. “Pretty much since I got hired on this group has been together. They love playing together. Gia was in 7th grade, Megan was in eighth and they played all the way up through.
“They have played on varsity together for the last three years, so it’s been a really nice relationship that those two have. They re comfortable with each other, they know where each other is on the floor. As they go, when they keep the energy up, it swells for the whole team.”
Both players had some good leaders that they learned from as they were coming up, playing with Kiara Fisher, Zaria Demember-Shazer and Morgan Gentile, all of whom play Division I now.
“I looked up to all three of them, and they pushed me to be my best,” Abrams said.
For Fedor having a post player like Demember-Shazer to learn from helped a lot.
“I learned so much from her, and even Morgan and Ki, they were all great examples for us,” Fedor said. “They set a high bar for us and we want to keep that going.”
And, now the two like to help lead the younger girls.
“It’s nice, you ant to be a good example for the younger girls and want them to keep playing,” Fedor said.
For Allen it was helpful that both Abrams and Fedor got a chance to play and learn from those former stars.
“A lot of people forget Gia (Jalea) has been on varsity since eighth grade, she played on two really good teams with Kiara and Zaria and Morgan and that group,” Allen said. “Megan came up as a sophomore and the same thing that that last really good team Megan was the sixth woman on the team. So they watched, they watched the example that Zaria and Ki and Morgan and Parker Moss and Zhane Holmes and all those kids. They watched how they worked, they watched how they led and all those things, so they have come in this year and really set a foundation as a team. As a coach I can’t ask for anything more.
“When your two best players are your two best leaders on top of everything else, it trickles down to everything else.”
Both players are starting to look at colleges right now.
“I have been on some division one visits,” Abrams said.
And, for both of them having players before them that are now playing in college, and even Division I, just shows them what is possible.
“It gives me some confidence and hope I can make it that far to,” Fedor said.
IN TOP PHOTO: Jalea Abrams (top) and Megan Fedor are having big seasons for Elmira. . . PHOTOS BY BRIAN FEES