Bay's Jonas carries on family tradition of basketball excellence
Blue Dukes star earns All-Suburban honor
Whitefish Bay - It's safe to say that Whitefish Bay NOW All-Suburban selection Maya Jonas has basketball in her blood.
Her father, Jeff, was an all-state high school star at Marquette High (a member of the athletic hall of fame) and went on to have a stellar career in college at Utah (where he once hit 42 free throws in a row).
The indoctrination started early.
"When I was really little, someone told me that he would put a little squishy stuffed ball in my hand and then he would hold my hand and go 'dribble, dribble, dribble,' " Maya laughed. "I think I was two years old. The funny thing was, I think it worked. Once I saw it (basketball), I really liked it.
"He wound up helping me a lot."
As the 6-2 sophomore Jonas has wound up helping the Blue Dukes continue their recent renaissance earning first-team All-WBCA Division 2 all-state this season and a repeat selection as first-team All-North Shore.
Jonas led the Blue Dukes to their second straight 20-plus win season (21-5) and a share of the North Shore title as the Blue Dukes made WIAA sectional finals before eventually losing to New Berlin Eisenhower.
She averaged 12.5 points per game, on 51 percent shooting from the field and hit 69 percent of her free throws and she averaged 8 rebounds a game, 2.5 blocked shots and 1.5 steals. She has developed a sophisticated offensive skill set and is a very adept passer out of the post and was also capable of stepping out and hitting the 3-pointer (11 of them) as well as bringing up the ball in a pinch.
Jonas needed to step it up, because expectations were high after last year's surprising state tournament berth.
"We pretty much knew what was coming," said Jonas, who started as a freshman on that state team a year ago. "We knew what was coming, but this was still a successful season considering that we had only two senior starters.
"Because of that, they were looking to me for more leadership. Coach (Greg) Capper was really on me to improve my defense and I think I definitely did. He really got my fundamentals down soundly and I was able to pick up more deflections and blocks."
As noted, she started in the game when she was very young. The family lived in Kansas until she was about 6 and then she got into grade school ball at Bay, where, she said, "I was always the tallest girl in the class.
"It started out just for fun and then I made it a little more competitive," she added.
Jonas said she was pleasantly surprised when she made varsity as a freshman, noting that she had put in a lot of work, but wasn't sure if it was going to happen or not. She also noted that she got a good push from Capper, who has led the Blue Dukes to increasingly better records every year since 2007.
And her coach agreed.
Practice pays off
"I think her biggest area of growth and development was realizing how hard she had to play in both practice and games," he said. "You learn how to do that and you will impact each possession both offensively and defensively."
Capper noted the influence of her father rather early on, as Jonas can often create her own shot when she's in trouble and hits a decent percentage of free throws for someone her height.
Jonas is used to playing for demanding coaches as in the off-season she plays for the Prestige select team guided by former area star Latrell Fleming.
"He likes us to be really competitive, too," she said of Fleming.
She likes the challenge of having butted heads against the powerful Nicolet and Grafton programs the last two seasons in the North Shore and is especially proud of helping the Blue Dukes earn a share of the team's first league title in six years last month.
Like the rest of the Blue Dukes, she was disappointed in the tough sectional final loss to eventual state D2 runner-up New Berlin Eisenhower, a team Jonas and the Blue Dukes had defeated in the same game a year ago.
But in her mind, it just gives her and a good cast of returnees (including point guard Elisabeth Johnston and fellow guard Ava Stock) motivation for even better things next year.
Focusing on hoops
"I'd like to work on my leadership skills," she said. "I know Capper wants me to work on that, too."
She will have more time to do so. Jonas was the goalie on the state-bound Blue Dukes girls soccer team of a year ago, but has given that up to devote more time to basketball. She and Prestige will play in several regionally based tournaments this spring and summer.
Still, she's grateful to soccer for how it helped her hoops game.
"There are so many different movements involved (in being a goalie)," she said. "You have to be maneuverable. It was funny, I was a forward (in soccer) for the longest time and then I hurt my ankle and they put me in goal and it sort of stuck."
In the end, soccer's loss is basketball's gain.
"She's just a very, very good athlete," Capper said. "She can score in a variety of ways and make the pass to the open person. She's playing defense the way we like and her defensive rebounding has been huge.
"In short, she's just about invaluable."
AT A GLANCE
OTHER BAY ALL-SUBURBAN HONOREES: 2012: Jonas; 2006: Katie Wysocky (POY), Meghan Warner, Todd Frohwirth (COY); 2005: Wysocky; 1997: Lacey Stone; 1990: Jenny Patrick
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