Jenn Hoffman epitomizes what Oak Ridge girls basketball is all about.
Hard working, dedicated, giving.
Day in, day out; year in, year out.
Hoffman, the Trojans’ senior guard listed at 5-foot-5 on the roster, brings a big game to the court and is, according to head coach Steve White, the complete package.
“Our program has relied over the years on kids working hard and giving the most of themselves, something Jenn has done. She’s unselfish, plays defense, can shoot, rebound and play point guard. It’s been nice to have her in the program as long as we have,” White said.
The rest of the Delta River League agrees — recently naming Hoffman its Most Valuable Player.
As team captain, floor leader and catalyst, Hoffman has helped lead Oak Ridge to its second straight undefeated league season while averaging 11 points in a system that regularly sees starters loose minutes due to large leads.
Another of Hoffman’s endearing qualities is her points-per-shot-production, a key internal team statistical category she tops.
“She’s a scoring point guard but not shoot first,” White said. “She’s all about the team.”
Hoffman came into the program the year after Oak Ridge won the 2010 state championship. An eighth-grader at Marina Middle School at the time, she couldn’t wait to get to Oak Ridge and even attended that game in Bakersfield.
Now, after one year on the Trojan junior varsity team and nearing the end of a three-year varsity stint, Hoffman, who came close as last season’s NorCal finalist, represents another unit poised to go after a state title.
“We want to make it to the state finals just like the 2009-10 team,” Hoffman said. “We were so close last year. It’s weird that it’s (prep career) so close to the end but at the same time it’ll be exciting to see what happens (in the postseason).”
State champion aspirations aren’t pressure-free. Hoffman, in perhaps her most recognizable game, knows all about tense situations when, as a sophomore at the section finals against Kennedy at Power Balance Pavilion (formerly Arco. now Sleep Train Arena), she hit two-of three clutch free throws with seconds left to force overtime.
“I joke with her about not making all three but I was really impressed how calmly she stepped up in that environment after missing the first to hit the next two,” White said.
Hoffman ended up sinking six three-pointers, her trademark shot, and scored 24 points. Despite falling in double overtime, Oak Ridge was poised to make a solid NorCal run but lost Hoffman early in the NorCal semifinals at Berkeley when she took a hard spill and broke her wrist and sprained an ankle.
“When I look back at that game … if we had her … I like our chances in the final outcome,” White said.
The Hoffman-White connection goes back to a 4-5s Mighty Mites team White and Hoffman’s dad co-coached. Since then White has been involved in Hoffman’s career in some capacity every year.
Hoffman was the school’s Sophomore Female Athlete of the Year and shared the honor with teammate Ali Bettencourt after her junior year. She’s an All League pick and twice was All Metro Honorable Mention. Along with Bettencourt, Oak Ridge’s three-year record with both in the varsity lineup is 78-18 overall, 27-3 in league.
She describes herself as someone who leads by example and tries to get everyone on track to play together. She’ll attack the basket, kick out to shooters and is prone to step up to the three-point line and knock one down.
“I’ve worked hard on my shot outside of practice and Coach White has helped me a lot,” said Hoffman who makes 51 percent of her overall shots — 52 percent on two-pointers and 49 percent from beyond the arc.
Sister Shelley plays on the JV squad and Steven, her older brother, played varsity basketball before he graduated.
While her post Oak Ridge basketball plans are undecided, academically she’ll focus on becoming a nurse in the medical field.
For now, the business at hand is the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs that open next Tuesday. Oak Ridge will play the Kennedy-Granite Bay winner.
Hoffman is ready.
“My goal for my senior season was to work as hard as I possibly can and do everything I can to help the team go as far as possible,” Hoffman said. “I knew if I did that, the season would be fun and we could go far.”
No one is betting against that.