Perhaps no player has made more improvement for the McPherson High girls basketball team during her four years than Janae Barnes.
The 6-0 Bullpup senior reflected on her career during her letter of intent signing Tuesday at the MHS Library when she cast her lot with junior college power Johnson County.
“I was going to quit after my freshman year actually,” said Barnes, who averaged 10.2 points and 7.2 rebounds her senior year to earn second-team AVCTL honors as well as honorable mention All-State. “That’s when I met Katelyn (Loecker) and she pushed me a lot harder to play my sophomore year. That year I was the sixth man and junior year I started, then started this year. So I’m glad I stuck with it, but I never thought I would go to college to play basketball. I was pushing volleyball a little more my freshmen and sophomore years. Katelyn is like the majority of the help I had.”
She probably could have gone to play collegiately in volleyball. In addition to being 6-0, she has great leaping ability and athleticism. She played an important role on the MHS 2012 state volleyball championship team as well as the 2013 team that made state.
Barnes’ improvement was nothing short of amazing, according to MHS coach Chris Strathman.
“She’s come a long ways in the four years she was with us,” said Strathman, as Barnes was a vital cog on the 2012 state championship team, the 2013 team that lost in the 4A finals and this year’s team that qualified for state, only to lose in the first round to eventual champion Bishop Miege. “Just real proud of her for the progress that she’s made. Johnson County is a very good program at the junior college level and they’ve had a lot of success, so she’s stepping into a good program. She’s just athletic enough that she does provide a little bit tougher matchup than some people can, dragging bigger posts out on her out on the floor and she can get around them at times, and especially get around them to go get offensive rebounds. She’s very active and a good athlete. The outside shot is something she has worked a lot on.”
Barnes improved to the point where Strathman gave her the green light to shoot 3-pointers, as she made 11 on the year. She also upped her free throw percentage to 63.4 after struggling during the early stages of her career. This year she had games of 23 points against Mulvane and 22 against Rose Hill, as well as hitting the game-winning shot against Winfield on the Vikings’ home court.
Johnson County is a juco powerhouse, going 30-2 this past season and making it to the Division II regional finals.
“They’re good,” Barnes said. “The school is really nice. It’s big. I met some counselors there and some of the teachers... it’s just a nice community to be around. I got a good vibe off of them. It was just good.”
The daughter of Janell and Johnnie Barnes, Janell will major in special education. Strathman often has commented how well she works with special-need students and that’s her occupational goal.