Williamson is defensive stopper for Lady Tigers
Northwestern girls basketball coach Chris Deutsch is quick to give praise to his players, and he has a lot of good players to heap praise on. What he doesn’t do is offer up a lot of hyperbole or try to make his players into something that they’re not. So, when he turned very serious recently when he was asked about senior Jess Williamson and offered up a stirring assessment of her ability on a basketball court, it makes sense to listen.
“I’ll debate this with any coach in the EPC, the Colonial League, anywhere, she is the best defensive guard in the Lehigh Valley, period,” Deutsch said. “I’ll match her up against anybody, because she does a phenomenal job for us and we ask her to guard the best players and that can be anybody, a forward, a guard, it doesn’t matter. She can guard anybody and she’s always ready to accept the challenge.”
In a recent win against Salisbury, Williamson was matched up on Sarah McGee and proved Deutsch right by holding the Falcons’ top offensive threat to just four points on the night and completely shutting her out in the second half. Three nights later, against Northern Lehigh, McGee hit for 21 points, including four three-pointers.
“It feels fantastic to hear that in my senior year,” said Williamson. “They’ve been telling me a lot that I stepped up and finally came into it. It’s taken a while, but to step up and finally be the player they’ve been telling me I could be feels good. They’ve told me that I have it in me, but I had to get my mindset right and that’s happened this year.”
Many nights, Williamson isn’t the lead scorer. Even in soccer, her primary sport, she didn’t lead Northwestern in goals and at times other players overshadow her. The thing that Williamson has that other players don’t is consistency. Night after night in either sport, she is going to give a gritty performance and do things right to win a game even if it isn’t the big things that get a player noticed.
When one look back over her time at Northwestern, they can see a player who has developed into that steady, get-the-job-done type of player, who is more worried about the outcome of the game than what her individual numbers show.
“It’s not always the easiest role to have other people get the praise, but at the end of the day you get the win and you know that you contributed,” said Williamson. “I think consistency is key, because if the lead girl falls off or has a rough game, someone has to do the job.”
Consistency in athletics is one thing, but Williamson carries that same consistent approach to the classroom as well. She was a scholar athlete nominee in soccer and has put up impressive academic achievements throughout her time at Northwestern. Academics, not athletics, are what Williamson is basing her college choice on as she sorts between Columbia, Duke and Wake Forest as her potential college choices for a degree in math.
“I’m going to pick a school and then work as hard as I can to be a walk-on [in soccer],” said Williamson of choosing a school.
With her senior season starting to wind down, one thing that’s on Williamson’s mind is getting another shot at Southern Lehigh. The Lady Spartans have beaten Northwestern twice in the regular season, the only two league losses for the Lady Tigers. It’s very likely that the two teams will fulfill expectations from the start of the season and meet again in the Colonial League playoffs, which start on Saturday.
“The first game was a close one, but the second one we got sort of shook and lost,” admitted Williamson. “Every other year we had questions in our heads when we played them, but that’s not true this year. We know we can take them.”