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West Side's Jada Dixon

West Side's Jada Dixon chases the ball in a regular-season game against Chesterton. Dixon is one of two seniors on the Cougars roster and one of three captains.

John J. Watkins, File, The Times

Opponents aren't expecting to see 6-foot tall Jada Dixon step out and take a jump shot. They really aren't expecting to see her shoot the 3.

The West Side senior is finding her niche at a new position.

Previously a post player — one who has been put inside since she played in middle school — Dixon was pulled out into the small forward role for the first time this season.

"It gives me a lot more freedom to take the jump shot," Dixon said.

After averaging 4.0 points and 5.4 rebounds from the inside as a junior, Dixon has found her game stepping a little outside. She's averaging 8.7 points and 5.3 rebounds this year as the Cougars earned their third straight sectional title and their first in Class 3A. They'll play against Knox at noon on Saturday in a semifinal at the Twin Lakes Regional.

The West Side team avoided Friday's heavy snowfalls by driving to Monticello on Thursday, practicing on Friday while Twin Lakes was in school.

Dixon said it was during practices that she realized how her role would change this season.

"In scrimmages they had me playing the 3," Dixon said. "That's when my jump shot started falling."

"She could always play, we knew that," West Side coach Rod Fisher said. "The thing is that she has to play relaxed. When she doesn't play relaxed, she's not always as effective as she is when she just plays relaxed."

Dixon had 20 points with four 3s in a five-point win against Andrean, and 23 points with four 3s against Michigan City, both in the regular season. She hit all three of her 3s against Hammond in the sectional in the first half.

"I think she enjoys the freedom, because she can take somebody off the dribble," Fisher said. "She's playing away from the basket and I think she enjoys it because she can go down inside if we need her to."

With the move, Dixon has seen her assist and steal numbers improve.

She had nine steals against Clark this season and five against Hammond in the sectional as part of her average of 2.7 per game this season. She's also averaging 1.3 assists, with three each against Highland, Clark and Roosevelt.

"It's there," Fisher said, "she has to believe in her self. The coaching staff believes in her."


Sports Director

Hillary has covered prep, pro and college sports -- and even a Dixie Baseball World Series -- for newspapers north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1995.