Jeff County sisters seek state title

By Paul Harris

Sisters Jordan and Jacee Kramer are not just seeking a state title this year, they are trying to match their mom’s legacy.

Their mom, Tonya Kramer, is also the girls’ assistant coach at Jefferson County North. She won a state title her senior year at the school. Tonya then attended Wichita State for four years and ranks among the school’s leaders in career points with 1,069.

Older sister Jordan, who is heading to Washburn next year, said dealing with her mom’s celebrity status is more motivation than burden.

“We like to compete with that too,” Jordan said. “It drives us.”

Tonya placed a basketball in her daughters’ hands at the age of five.

“I wanted to share with them the love I had for the game,” she said.

The former point guard stressed the importance of ball-handling from the very outset.

“You’ve got to be able to create your own shot if you want to play at the next level,” Jacee said.

Jordan and Jacee combined for 54 points in their 42-point trouncing of the Hamilton Bulldogs in the first round of the 2A state tournament. Most of Jefferson County’s games have come in blowout fashion and their only loss of the season came at Effingham, the top-ranked team in this year’s 3A state tournament. The loss is something the team has not forgot.

“It put a fire in us,” Jacee said. “We were taught to learn from our losses.”

But a majority of the Chargers’ games are in blowout fashion. Jordan and Jacee said they rarely feel bad for the opposing teams.

“We taught these guys that we don’t worry about what they’re doing or how they’re playing,” said Tonya. “We worry about how we play.”

Jefferson County North plays an up-tempo style that thrives off of opponents’ mistakes.

While the Kramer sisters grab the headlines, senior point guard Kate Brikell is the cog that makes the machine go.

“She keeps our team steady,” coach Kramer said. “She does a lot of little things that people sitting around don’t see or don’t understand.”

Brikell, who is best friends with the Kramer sisters, has been playing with Jordan since the third grade.

“Sometimes I pass her the ball and she’s not even looking and she just catches it,” Brikell said.

“We can just feel each other,” Jordan said.

Unlike most players today, Brikell, whose season-high for assists is 10, said she prefers assists to points.

“I handle the ball and get the ball to these guys,” she said referring to Jacee and Jordan. “That’s why we win games.”

Brikell and the Kramer girls hope to win the state title this year after losing their only game of the year in the 3A state championship game to Wichita Collegiate last year.

“Winning state is the goal,” Tonya said. “We’ve talked about it for years.”

Tonya has been coaching Kate and Jordan since the third grade.

All in all, Jordan and Brikell have lost just six games during their entire high school career, while winning 92. It would be 94 wins if they won state.

Next up for the Chargers is Claflin Central.

If the favorites advance to Saturday’s championship game, it will pit undefeated Olpe, winner of two straight state championships, against Jefferson County North.

“To be the best you have to beat the best.” Jacee said.

Despite the competitive fire between Jordan, Jacee and Tonya, their younger brother James, 9, takes every one of the losses the hardest.

“After our loss (this year), we were in the locker room and he comes in,” Jacee said. “He was crying so hard. He comes up and gives us a big hug and is like, ‘I’m so sorry you guys lost.’ He was the most upset out of anyone.”

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