Julia Shearn, a senior guard on the Thomas Jefferson basketball team, celebrated her 18th birthday Dec. 21 — the same day the Jaguars defeated Keystone Oaks, 67-58, at home.
Shearn was joined in the starting lineup by senior guards Jenna Clark and Shaylor Williams, junior guard/forward Alyssa DeAngelo and junior forward Dalaney Ranallo.
“The past two years, I have celebrated my birthday with a home-game win,” Shearn said. “It’s super fun because we are always singing and dancing. What better way to celebrate?”
Clark, Ranallo and freshman guard Graci Fairman were catalysts for TJ (6-1) against the Golden Eagles.
Clark connected for a game- and career-high 29 points, which included four 3-pointers and 16 points after halftime.
A 5-foot-7 point guard, Clark will continue her basketball career at Yale, where she plans to study economics.
Clark, who was an all-state selection last season, also received offers from Appalachian State, St. Francis (Pa.), St. Bonaventure, Morehead State, Niagara and Stony Brook.
“Yale is a perfect fit for me,” said Clark, who scored 28 points against Canon-McMillan. “The coaching staff is amazing and incredibly focused on the future. I want to win an Ivy League championship and make it to the NCAA Tournament while getting an amazing education.
“Yale just checks so many boxes, and I know I’ll become a better player and person during my time there.
Fairman, a 5-4 backcourt player and youngest daughter of TJ coach Lisa Fairman, finished with 16 points. The 5-11 Ranallo, a lefty and a standout soccer player, chipped in 12.
Ranallo has made a verbal commitment to continue her soccer career at Old Dominion. She has rejoined the TJ basketball program after sitting out last season.
“I’m very excited to be a part of the girls basketball team. Not playing my sophomore year was a hard choice for me to make,” Ranallo said. “That being said, the girls and coaching staff were so welcoming when I returned. I am super pumped to play and contribute this season.”
Thomas Jefferson edged Gateway, 37-33, last year on Shearn’s birthday.
“So far, I think the team is surpassing expectations at a rate that is bound to bring us success, especially defensively,” Shearn said. “This year, coach Fairman is pushing us past what the team has ever seen. Once it clicks, a whole new level will be reached.
The 5-6 Shearn is vice president of the TJ vs. Cancer Club, teaches Sunday school, and participates in winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding.
Shearn has a 4.286 GPA and plans to earn a Master’s degree and become a physician’s assistant.
“My (basketball) career consists of constantly pushing myself to become better as a player and a person,” Shearn said. “I played TJ volleyball my freshman year but decided to discontinue that to focus more of my time on AAU and high school basketball.”
Keystone Oaks was led against the Jaguars by senior guard/forward Gillian Piccolino with 22 points, which included an 8-for-9 performance at the free-throw line.
“Our team often shouts, ‘All in,’ which is a saying we chose at the beginning of the season,” Shearn said. “The meaning goes back to one of Coach Fairman’s first team speeches, where she exclaimed how all of us were united as a family through the same goals. In order to achieve these goals, we must give 110 percent. We must be all in.”
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.