SAN DIEGO — Jessica Benton isn't the type of person who points fingers or throws basketballs in the air after winning championships. She's more Kevin McHale than Cheryl Miller.
Benton works hard and gets the job done. She doesn't have time for much else.
That's the same image Point Loma High School Coach Lee Trepanier would like to see people have of his girls' basketball team. He wants people to understand that, like Benton, the Pointers have had to work to achieve their success.
Benton, a 6-foot 4-inch senior, plays center for the Pointers, who are the No. 3-ranked team in the state and two-time defending state champions. She's been a major factor in Point Loma's becoming one of the best teams in the country the last two seasons. Point Loma will play Monte Vista for the Section 3-A title Saturday in the Sports Arena.
"Jessica is the key," Trepanier said earlier in the season. "How well she plays is how well we'll do in state."
The Pointers also have junior Terri Mann, a high school All-American who was last season's San Diego Section player of the year.
Benton carries a grade point average of about 3.5 in college preparatory courses. She was one of six students picked to participate in a zoology class at the San Diego Zoo six hours a week. She also plays on a volleyball club during the basketball season.
So how does she juggle all of those activities?
"Somehow," Benton says. "You get used to doing homework over the weekend. I know what I have to do and get it done."
Benton was accepted at Stanford University on a full volleyball scholarship earlier this year.
"When I first heard I was accepted," Benton said, "I said, 'Oh my gosh, I really got in? No, this is a joke, isn't it?' They have a great volleyball program, but they also have a great science program. That's important because I want to major in zoology.
The commitment to hard work that helped get Benton into Stanford doesn't end with the school year, either.
Trepanier took his team to three camps the last two summers. Last summer Point Loma won a tournament in South Lake Tahoe, Nev., against teams from all over the West.
"To be the No. 1 team in the state, you have to play year round," Trepanier said. "These girls are willing to dedicate themselves to do that.
"Two years ago (when Point Loma beat Pleasant Valley of Chino for the state 2-A title) most of these girls were sitting on the bench. I didn't have one senior. But they've worked hard to get where they are now."
Basketball camps aren't free, either. Trepanier says good camps charge about $300 per player per week. So the Pointers have had to work to raise the money to travel.
Besides contributing their time to a work-a-thon to raise money for the school, the girls ran the concession stand at football and boys' basketball games. Trepanier said the girls earned about $3,700 for the program last season, and about $3,000 this season.
"I'm going to have to have another big fund-raiser," Trepanier said. "We want to go to Las Vegas next year."
Benton says it is hard work playing every day for two months out of the summer, but she adjusts.
"Yeah, it was tough," Benton says. "But I'd rather have him work us hard than not at all. You get used to two months of hard work. You have to."