Keeping it in the family

Published 5:09 pm Wednesday, February 25, 2009

GRAND MEADOW – Once in every generation most small schools are blessed with at least one great athlete and Grand Meadow is no different in that aspect. However, the Superlarks girls’ basketball team has gotten both of their star players from the same family.

29 years after Slone (Benson) Seuss set the Grand Meadow scoring record at 2,051 points, her niece Jessica Benson surpassed the mark Feb. 16 during a 69-59 victory over Spring Grove in Grand Meadow Gym.

Slone was on-hand and Jessica let her know about the record changing hands by flashing a smile and a slight cutthroat gesture towards her aunt in the stands.

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“It’s over,” Jessica could be heard saying.

“Hey Jessica,” Slone called back to the senior forward. “Ball hog.”

The exchange was common for the two in recent weeks.

“We trash talk about it all the time,” Jessica said.

While Jessica never got the chance to watch her aunt play at any level, she does have one thing that ties her in with Slone’s career. She was born the night that Slone won her first of three women’s basketball national championships at North Dakota State University.

“She’s grown up with a lot of basketball. It’s kind of what we’ve always done,” Slone said. “I can’t say I had a lot of influence because she’s a totally different player than I was. But it’s been fun.”

While Slone was an interior presence, Jessica has done it all for the Superlarks. She handles the ball, shoots threes, drives to the hoop, posts up and is the team’s top defender.

“People assume she must be a ball hog. But not at all, she leads in every stat in the book,” said GM point guard Bailey Gomer. “It’s amazing (playing with Jessica). How many people get the opportunity to play with a 2,000-point scorer? Now she’s breaking the school record. That’s awesome.”

When Gomer says Jessica leads in every stat category, she means it literally. Jessica, who started on varsity as an eighth grader, leads the Superlarks in all-time assists (490), steals (520), blocks (356), and rebounds (1,511), while racking up 2,115 career points. On the season, Jessica is averaging 23.7 points, 12 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 4.3 steals, and 1.8 blocks per game for the No. 1 seeded Superlarks, who will play No. 8 Houston in the first round of the Section 1A girls basketball playoffs in Stewartville Friday at 6:30 p.m.

After breaking the record, Jessica acknowledged that it was nice to have a niece and aunt combination at the top two scoring spots, but she’s ready to stop talking about scoring.

“I’m just glad to have it done with,” she said. “Now we can just focus on basketball and playoffs.”

Slone concurs with that opinion.

“We knew it was going to happen and I think Jessica’s just glad to have it done with and everybody can quit talking about it now,” Slone, who is now an assistant girls basketball coach at Kasson/Mantorville said. “She gets a hard time for breaking it and I get a hard time for my record going down.”

In fact, when the game against R/P was stopped to acknowledge the school record, Jessica was in the stands to hand the ball to her dad and back on the court to play in a flash.

“After I gave the ball to her I told her to run it up there (to her parents) and let’s get this game going,” GM head coach Dawn Baudoin said. “That’s the way Slone was too, neither one of them like the attention. They know that they’ve worked hard with some accomplishments, but they know that it’s a team sport.”

Baudoin added that Jessica has been the ultimate team player for the Superlarks.

“She’s going to put the ball up if it’s there. But she also knows when she’s overmatched and has to give it up,” Baudoin said. “That’s just part of the sport is when you know if you have an advantage. She’s a smart kid and I definitely think it rubs off on everyone else.” 

GM (21-4 overall) won the SEC conference for the second straight season this year.