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Hoffman becoming one of state's best post players

The reason is simple: despite being only 5-foot-8, junior Jenna Hoffman has become the best post player in Class AA. Granted, it may seem unrealistic to those not familiar with the Kernels, but anyone who has seen Mitchell play knows it's true. "...

The reason is simple: despite being only 5-foot-8, junior Jenna Hoffman has become the best post player in Class AA.

Granted, it may seem unrealistic to those not familiar with the Kernels, but anyone who has seen Mitchell play knows it's true.

"She is physically stronger than the players who guard her," MHS coach Deb Thill said. "You can't cover her with a guard."

While she is the team's leading scorer with 19.9 points per game, Hoffman also pulls down a team-best 6.5 rebounds per contest.

Bear in mind that Hoffman also is doing this against a lot of the best teams in the state, teams that have players with three- to five-inch height advantages over her.

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The key to Hoffman's success is her relentless play, which is a teamwide attribute.

"A lot of rebounding is hustle," Hoffman said. "It doesn't necessarily have to be how tall you are - you just have to get after the ball."

While Hoffman is listed as a guard, she is as valuable to the team in the paint as she is on the perimeter.

"We see matchups where she is being guarded by someone that she can dominate," Thill said. "So we'll call her number. She's a very strong player."

Perhaps the biggest example of Hoffman's strength as a post player came on Jan. 24, against Brandon Valley.

The Lynx frontcourt has six-footer Juliann Schoeneman and 5-foot-11 Angie Hoff. Yet it was Hoffman who had the best game, scoring 15 points and pulling down a game-high nine rebounds as Mitchell rolled to a 70-55 victory.

The following night, in a game against third-ranked Huron, the Tigers used their frontcount, which had a 6-foot-1 center and a 5-foot-11 forward - to open up an early lead.

But Mitchell eventually won the contest with ease as the Kernels shut down Huron's inside game.

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"We let Huron get too many easy inside shots," Hoffman said. "In the second quarter, we just made it hard for their guards to get the ball inside."

It's that kind of matter-of-fact attitude that makes her so dangerous. She simply won't let others beat her.

"She will outhustle you if you're lazy for even a half a second," Thill said at practice Tuesday. "She's always thinking ahead, always thinking about getting into position for a rebound. Not very many kids are that aggressive."

As Thill was saying this, Hoffman knifed through three taller teammates in a 5-on-5 drill, missed the shot, but got her own rebound and was able to score.

"See, just like that," Thill said. "She just won't let the ball touch the floor."

Hoffman's teammates also have something to do with it, as the strength of Mitchell's roster keeps opponents at bay.

Other Mitchell starters - Tara Miller, Chelsey Miller and Leslie McCain - are all offensive threats, while Hoffman's sister, Jeana, is a devastating 3-point threat with a tenacity that matches Jenna's.

"No team can focus on any one player," Jenna Hoffman said. "We have so many offensive threats."

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While she isn't specifically focusing on being a great post player - she just wants to keep improving on her all-around game - Hoffman quietly has become one of the state's best inside players, despite her small stature.

"I'm just trying to establish myself," Hoffman said. "I want to have a good inside-outside game."

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