By Tom Robinson
MANHEIM – Kayla Rose used playing against some of the best players near her age from around the country as preparation for making the move to going against older opponents locally.
Rose said last year’s play with a JB Hoops ninth-grade AAU team was a big part of getting her ready to make an impact as a high school freshman in the highly competitive Division 3 of the Lackawanna League.
“I think it helped a lot because we learned to play against bigger people and stronger people,” said Rose, who earned first-team Division 3, all-star recognition from NEPABasketball.com. “That helped when it came time to play against older girls who are more physical.”
Rose first came to Backcourt Hoops in Scranton for league play as a third grader. She moved up to the NEPA Flames local AAU team as a fifth grader and made her way up to the JB Hoops teams that travel to top national-level tournaments in the east throughout the spring and summer.
Last year’s JB Hoops Rose team of then eighth- and ninth-grade players – coached by her father, Jerry Rose – had a successful AAU season and supplied significant contributors to the 2017-18 high school season.
That helped make Kayla Rose ready to play center against girls up to three years older while keeping Riverside from slipping despite going with a young lineup.
“I think I was prepared,” she said. “Some stuff was a little nerve-wracking, but everything came along and it went well.”
Rose is playing with the JB Hoops Coleman team of primarily ninth-graders this season and has twice filled in when needed with the JB Hoops Carra 11th-grade team.
JB Hoops Coleman won the Girls 9th Grade Gold Division of the East Coast Championships May 6-7 at Spooky Nook Sports Complex.
“We do the little things,” Rose said, explaining the team’s success. “We box out; we play defense; we move the ball around for the open shots and that helps us win.”
Rose is settled in as a post player after playing there most of the time through the years, but says she is comfortable filling in at small forward, if needed. She is trying to expand her game this spring to add more options when she does get the ball away from the basket.
“I’m just trying to make my shot better, get it off quicker and be able to shoot from further range,” she said.