Jasmin Boyd Courtesy photo
Jasmin Boyd Courtesy photo

Jasmin Boyd – the lone senior on the Trenton Catholic Academy  girls basketball team – shares an unbreakable bond with her school and her teammates. 

Together, they are the last girls to play basketball for TCA as a diocesan high school.  With the recent announcement that the school will close this June and with plans to transition to a private Catholic school still unconfirmed as of press time, the players know that they are part of something historic, and they are taking it to heart.

The upside is that when Boyd bids farewell to the Hamilton institution in June, she will have her alma mater to thank for helping her reach her lifelong dream of becoming a Division I basketball player, as she committed to North Carolina A&T on March 15.

It was a case of Boyd also relying on God.

“Praying has always helped me,” said Boyd, who credits her faith for sustaining her through the high points of life as well as the challenges. “I always went to God, always prayed to him, asked him what’s going on and just put it in his hands.”

When speaking of her basketball career, Boyd readily admits that her prayers, hard work and determination led to her capping off a memorable TCA career during which she was a four-year starter. She helped the Iron Mikes earn two Mercer County Tournament titles and, these past two seasons, provided leadership for a team that went a combined 42-2. 

The Iron Mikes went 28-1 in 2019-20 and 14-1 this year, with their only loss to a New Jersey team coming a few weeks ago to the state’s No. 1 ranked squad, St. John Vianney, Holmdel. Last year, the TCA team lost to Maryland’s Bishop McNamara, and were unable to play for a Non-Public Group B championship due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

Thus, despite a glittering record over two seasons, one of the state’s top teams never got to compete for a state title.

So head coach Bob Fusik and assistant Sherika Salmon provided inspiration in other ways.

“We told them ... don’t worry about individual stats, just worry about the team,” Fusik said.

Those words were taken to heart. 

“We wanted to go out with a bang, win as many games as we could,” Boyd said. “We wanted to show everybody that even though [the future of] TCA basketball [was uncertain], we’re still gonna stay strong.”

Emotions were mostly ones of happiness after each game. Fusik made sure to load up the schedule with as many ranked teams as possible to provide his players with another form of motivation.

“We went in just saying we want to play everybody and anybody this year because we’re not playing for any championships,” the coach said.

“At St. John Vianney, it was a four-point game with three minutes left. The outcome obviously wasn’t what we wanted, but I felt we had a very good season. We packed our schedule with seven top 20 teams, and to go 14-1, we were very happy,” he said.

Beating TCA was a tough task thanks in great part to sophomores Zoe Brooks and Aalyah Del Rosario. Brooks, a shooting guard, led the team in scoring with a 19.5 average and in steals with 56. Del Rosario, a 6-foot-6 center, averaged 16.6 points and a team-high 11.5 rebounds.

Also making an impact was freshman Aurora Almon-Sanchez, who was second on the team in rebounds, and sophomore Angelica Velez, who led the Mikes in assists with 82.

Making sure it all ran smooth was Boyd, the quiet but indispensable leader, who won this year’s Renee Keister Award.

The award is named after the former Iron Mikes’ great whose career ended after her sophomore year, when an accident suffered at home left her in a wheelchair for life. It is given to the Mercer County player who defines Keister’s determination and ability.

“I can’t say enough about Jasmin,” Fusik said. “Every year we just watched her develop her game. She went from being a hard-nosed player and doing whatever we asked, to being a leader this year. She never worried about her stats. There were games she’d take two shots, but never whined or moaned, ‘How come I don’t get more shots?’”

Boyd averaged 12 points over 10 games and had 29 assists and 37 steals. She showed enough ability to be signed by one of the top mid-major programs in the nation after playing for one of the top high school programs in the state. NC A&T won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament on March 13 and is in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in six years. 

“The ride over the last two years was great,” Boyd said. “No matter what, we were always a family. We were always caring for each other. It didn’t matter about anything else. We were there for each other, the coaches were there for us. We were always sisters. We had each other’s back; whether we won or lost, it didn’t matter

“Playing for coach Bob and coach Sherika was such a pleasure, and being at TCA was just a great experience,” she said.