By Austin Bishop
Webster Progress Times
SCOOBA — Sharon Thompson knew Quantesha Patterson was a special talent, that’s why the veteran East Mississippi Community College head women’s basketball coach, spent so much time on her during the recruitment process.
That time has paid huge immediate dividends for the Lady Lions, as the 5-foot-11 freshman went into the Christmas break fourth in the NJCAA in scoring with an average of 22.7 points per game.
“I have never seen anything like it before,” Thompson said of the former East Webster High School standout’s quick adjustment to the college game. “I am overwhelmed. I saw the kid play about 10 times and I knew she was one that we had to have. But if you had asked me if I expected her to be already playing at the level she is, the answer is no.”
Patterson has mixed well with the returnees from last year’s EMCC squad and several transfers to lead the Lady Lions to a 6-1 start on the season.
“She just has that knack of scoring around the goal,” said Bill Brand, who coached Patterson and the Lady Wolverines of EWHS to a MHSAA Class 2A State Championship last season. “Everything she does is effortless. She runs hard and plays hard. It doesn’t always look like it because she has so much God-given talent.”
“I didn’t expect to do this well so soon,” said Patterson. “The game is a lot faster and a lot more physical, especially inside. The players are so much stronger.”
It was that physical style of play the NJCAA is known for that had Thompson wondering how long it would take Patterson to adjust to the junior college game.
The answer came quickly: Not long at all.
“When we went to our first jamboree I began to see what she could do,” Thompson said. “She was doing well against our girls in practice but when we went to the Southern Challenge at Tallahassee she had to play against a couple girls who were 6-2 and 6-4. She did the same thing against them.
“Then the following week she had success again. At that point you could see she was something special.”
While Patterson can score off offensive sets and put-backs around the goal, Thompson said it is the slender freshman’s defensive prowess that plays a big role in her scoring.
“She is 5-foot-11, but has a long wing span that stretches out to about 6-2,” the coach said. “She gets a lot of steals and plays at the top of our press so she can get down the floor quickly. She gets a lot of rim runs and does a good job of finishing.”
Thompson said Patterson’s work ethic has been evident since the first day she walked on to the Scooba campus.
“She is the most consistent player that I have coached since I’ve been here,” Thompson said. “She practices hard and listens to what she is being taught.”
“I’m just learning so much from the coaches and trying to get better,” Patterson said. “I think we are doing together good as a team. We have some good players here and we are just trying to get better.”
Thompson said Patterson’s experience winning a state championship is invaluable.
“Everybody wants to win, but only a few know how to win,” she said. “She is one of those.”
So far this season Patterson has hit on 66-of-104 shots from the floor for 63.5 percent, while also averaging a team-high 10.3 rebounds per game to go along with team highs in steals at 24 and blocked shots at 14.
“One of the reasons she is accomplishing so much is that she is just a supreme person,” Thompson said. “None of this success has gone to her head. She is just a very humble kid. When you get a chance to work with a person who is like that, it makes it very rewarding.”
The Lady Lions are set to return to action on Jan 5 when they visit East Central Community College in Decatur. The next home game for EMCC is Jan. 7 against Meridian, while the Lady Lions return to MACJC North Division play on Jan. 11 when they visit Mississippi Delta Community College.