By MIKE MEILER
Niagara Gazette — Throughout his career at Niagara Catholic, junior guard Jonathan Jackson has filled a variety of roles. Naturally a scorer who fits the shooting guard position, Jackson was forced to play the role of distributing point guard during his first two seasons due to the presence of established senior scorers on the Patriots.
This year, his third as a starter on the varsity team, Jackson been looked at to fill his nature role — a scoring two-guard who can create his own points.
With the loss of several seniors from last season, including 1,000-point forward Joe Lowery, Jackson took the reigns as the go-to guy on the Patriots. NC coach Eric Fields said Jackson is ready for his increased responsibility.
“Jonathan is growing into a strong role, more of a leadership role,” coach Eric Fields said. “He’s been lucky the past few years — he’s had seniors around since he was a freshman. Now the team is young, and he’s bringing a lot of leadership and it shows in his play.
“We’ve got a guy in his third year of varsity basketball in the program, and he hasn’t done anything but improve since day one.”
Because Niagara Catholic is a small school, players on the school’s varsity teams are sometimes asked to do more on their respective teams. It’s difficult to specialize responsibilities when numbers are fewer, throughout his career, Jackson has embraced new parts of his game. As a sophomore, he put up three triple-doubles in NC’s first 10 games, including back-to-back in Starpoint’s annual Pendleton Lions Club Tournament.
“We don’t have a lot of players as a small school, so I try to do my best so we can take Niagara Catholic to another level and get more respect,” Jackson said at the time. “Make the right pass, get the team going. I want to lead us to a win. That’s all I really want to do is win.”
Even as a freshman, Fields noticed Jackson’s ability to do whatever was needed of. If there was something asked of him he couldn’t do, the coach knew he’d work to learn it.
“He’s our leader out there and the hardest worker in practice,” Fields said.”
Fellow junior Brian Thomas has taken over much of the ball-handling responsibilities this season, leaving Jackson room to focus on scoring. Their new roles — along with fellow junior Andrew Adamson’s increased scoring and rebounding presence — have led the Patriots to a 3-3 record early this season.
They’ll next play in the Lions Club Tournament, starting Thursday, before kicking off a tough Monsignor Martin Athletic Association schedule, which includes Western New York powers St. Joe’s and Canisius.Follow high school sports reporter Mike Meiler on Twitter @mikemeiler for updates on your local teams.