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Women's Basketball: Manchester Valley grad Jayce Klingenberg trying to 'dive right in' and improve with McDaniel

Women's Basketball: Manchester Valley grad Jayce Klingenberg trying to 'dive right in' and improve with McDaniel
McDaniel College's Jayce Klingenberg calls a play as she controls the ball around the perimeter during a game against Goucher at McDaniel College on Jan. 3, 2019. (Brian Krista / Carroll County Times)

Jayce Klingenberg came to McDaniel College with an accomplished sports resume at Manchester Valley High School.

The former three-sport athlete starred in volleyball, basketball, and lacrosse for the Mavericks, and headed to the Hill to pursue a college hoops career. Klingenberg was eager for tryouts last year, and she took to the Green Terror’s fall conditioning and pick-up games with vigor.

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Maybe a little too much, as it turned out.

Klingenberg’s freshman season all but ended before it even started — the 5-foot-6 guard suffered a stress fracture in her right ankle. Klingenberg sat out until Jan. 6, 2018, and totaled 28 minutes in five games last season.

“It was definitely weird not playing,” she said. “It was tough to be injured, especially as a freshman. Because that’s your time to kind of prove yourself and show that you can play. And then three days into tryouts I lose that opportunity completely.”

Klingenberg did her best to stay positive and knew she’d get another chance to compete.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be seeing the court a lot,” she said, “but I was just preparing for next season, almost, as soon as I got back last year.”

Her time seems to be now.

Klingenberg came into her sophomore campaign healthy and determined. McDaniel utilizes upward of seven guards in its regular rotation, and Klingenberg has found her place.

The Hampstead native averages 12.1 minutes per game and has seen action in all 15 contests this winter for the Terror (9-6, 4-6 in the Centennial Conference). Her numbers might not be gaudy — 1.8 points, 1.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals per game — but Klingenberg’s presence is felt, said coach Rick Little.

“I didn’t know her, and she would be one I didn’t even recruit when I was with Becky,” said Little, a former assistant under Becky Martin who assumed her position when Martin left her post last summer upon being diagnosed with cancer. “She’s a very coachable player. She plays very hard. … And she’s always wanting to know what to do to get better.”

Klingenberg twice earned Times first-team all-county honors when she played basketball at Man Valley. She finished her high school career with 957 points, and averaged 3.7 steals and 3.3 assists as a senior. Klingenberg scored 11.4 points per game as a junior and sank 40 3-pointers.

McDaniel was getting a solid all-around player, one that escaped major injuries throughout high school. But when Klingenberg went down just before her rookie season, she faced a crossroad.

Rehabilitating and resting was challenging enough, but Little trying to adjust to college basketball life can bring its own set of difficulties. Klingenberg didn’t want to find herself too far down on McDaniel’s bench. Little said that didn’t happen thanks to Klingenberg’s work ethic.

“I think her IQ is really good,” the coach said. “She was able to pick up the new stuff. … She was almost starting over. She has worked herself into that core group that we count on playing a good bit now.”

Klingenberg has 27 points, 16 rebounds, and 16 assists as one of the Green Terror’s main reserves this season. But she’s plenty involved when she’s on the court, whether it’s setting screens for teammates or running offensive sets as the point guard.

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That’s a credit to her mental training, Little said, during prior practices when Klingenberg attended the team’s sessions but wasn’t healthy enough to compete.

“There’s a steep curve for any girl coming out of high school to play college basketball,” Little said. “And when you’re not on the floor, boy … she was behind the 8-ball. She has been a pleasure to coach.”

McDaniel had a three-game winning streak halted last Thursday in a loss against Ursinus, then fell Saturday on the road vs. Haverford. The Terror are preparing for a pivotal two-week stretch, though, with four of the next five games at home. It starts with Swarthmore on Wednesday at Gill Center.

No doubt Klingenberg will be ready when called to contribute, as she continues to learn and grow.

“I’ve really tried to dive right in and be a part of everything,” Klingenberg said. “[I’m] just trying to learn as much as I can from not only my coaches, but my teammates as well. Seeing how they play and just trying to fit into the system.”

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