Penn seniors Caroline Buhr and Jess Alexander remember being on the bench for the 4A State Finals as freshman, only to suffer defeat in Penn's first ever appearance in the state title game.
"We were just watching, along for the ride," Alexander says. "I got in for like 30 seconds or something like that. It was the coolest 30 seconds of my life."
Now Alexander is a major reason the Kingsmen will get another shot at winning their first ever state championship, taking on Bedford North Lawrence in the 4A Finals Saturday night in Terre Haute.
Alexander is Penn's emotional leader. She says she's always been the motivator that screams a lot even dating back to her freshman year.
"I've always been loud, getting everyone hyped," she says. "I think the best teams have players like that."
Alexander is the spark plug.
"She brings a fire and fuel to us that pumps us up," junior Lauren Ellenberger says.
She's a coach's dream.
"Jessie provides a lot of toughness for us," Penn coach Kristi Kaniewski says. "A lot of grit and a lot of heart---she just goes so hard every single day. You never see a drop off with her."
"She has a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm," says fellow senior Caroline Buhr. "If we're down--or flat--she's someone you can count on to pick the team up and get us going which is awesome."
So does Alexander ever run out of energy?
"No," sophomore Kamra Solomon says with a big laugh. "She never runs out of energy. She's singing, dancing--going crazy the whole time--she makes us better definitely."
Alexander says she never has to force anything--it all comes naturally.
"I never want to be the boring player out there," Alexander says with a smile. "You see people play boring--an energized basketball player is the best basketball player there is."
She'll enjoy the ride Saturday no matter what b this time, Jess is looking to lead Penn to its first every state championship win in girls hoops.
"I think we'll all look better in blue than red so I think that would be really cool to see everyone get blue rings, blue ribbons," Alexander says.
Tipoff Saturday night in Terre Haute is at approximately 8:30pm.