Despite enduring two injuries–a sprained left thumb and chronically painful feet–in her freshman season with Jackson Liberty High School’s girl’s basketball team, Ariana Broughton enjoyed a solid year, as she drained 232 points, grabbed 284 rebounds, and made 37 steals in 28 games.
The 15-year-old forward felt that sitting on the bench was not an option for her, as she did not want to disappoint her team, even though she said her flat feet hobbled her at times.
“It (thumb) hurt so bad, but I had to push through it,” Broughton said. “It affected my shot since I am left-handed. It kept me from scoring as many points I thought I should have. But I felt I didn’t want to let my coaches and teammates down. We had put so much time and effort into basketball, I didn’t want to stop then.”
Broughton helped guide the Lady Lions to a 14-14 record and the NJSIAA sectional tournament, Central Jersey, Group 3 Semifinal Round, where it lost to Neptune, 51-40.
Nevertheless, Broughton, healthy at the moment, said it was a good year for Jackson Liberty and herself, as she averaged 10.2 rebounds, 8.3 points, and 1.3 thefts per contest.
However, she said she feels both parties should perform even better this campaign.
In fact, Broughton’s offensive production was not far off of what she aims to achieve in every contest she competes in, with rebounding being a huge part of her game, evident by her take-no-prisoners style of play.
But Broughton said it’s not all about crashing the boards and dropping in buckets.
“My goal every game is to have a double-double,” she said. “I would describe myself as a physical player. But I always go for the steal and give up the extra pass when I can. So, it’s not just points and rebounds.”
While her coaches and teammates on the Lady Lions, MJBL, AAU NJ Storm, and NJ Belles appreciate Broughton’s athletic ability, it’s her hoop intangibles and sparkling personality that have earned her foes’ respect.
“I actually got the chance to play Ari during the summer and she is such a fierce competitor on the court,” Gabby Recinto of Cherokee High School and AAU Exodos NYC said. “But off (the court), she’s just a great person to be around. She is so kind and so friendly, I really respect her as a player. I can’t wait to meet up with her again and hopefully we will get the opportunity to train together in the future.”
With a full season of high school hoops underneath her belt, Broughton said she had relished in the opportunity to start as a freshman. And playing for the Lady Lions helped grow her passion for the sport she has played since a child.
Moreover, she believes Jackson Liberty’s drive for winning will be even stronger this season, and hopefully, yield more wins for Jackson Liberty.
“I think playing with Jackson Liberty was the best experience I ever had in basketball,” Broughton explained. “It felt like we were a huge family. But I feel like we can do better, and even go further (this year).”
— Jerry Del Priore