Standing just a shade over 5-feet-2, you may not immediately place Jessena Quinones as one of the top all-around girl’s basketball players in Arizona.
That is, of course, until she steps on floor and the ball is tipped.
“I started playing when I was five,” Quinones said to Sports360AZ.com. “When I watched my sister’s basketball game, I was sitting in the crowd with one of my younger friends and I looked at them and I said, ‘I’m going to be better than my older sister.'”
Older sister is Jazmin Quinones, who would play at South Mountain Community College and Texas Southern University after a standout prep career at Peoria High School just over a decade ago.
Jessena’s journey to prep stardom on the hardwood would take a different path. After attending Liberty High School her freshman year, she transferred to Desert Heights Prep in Glendale to help strengthen her academic resume for college.
On the court she would end her senior season averaging nearly 16 points, seven steals and 8.7 assists – which placed her first in the category in Arizona and in the Top 10 nationally.
Just days after the Coyotes’ finished their impressive 16-2 season, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Jessena’s life would change forever.
In a span of just 60 days she lost her cousin Julio Van Luvanee, grandmother Migdalia Ortiz and an extremely close family friend, Lee Humes – all to the coronavirus.
Quinones recalls fondly the memories shared with the women she loved to try to impress as a little girl.