Liberty’s Jo Cory was such a good basketball player that her older brother used to bring her along to play in pickup games with him and his friends on the basketball team.
“Most of the girls were too chicken to play,” said Cory. “I always like playing with the guys. They’re faster. more intense, more violent.”
The stiff competition has paid off for Cory, who is sitting at number two on the all-time scoring list for girls basketball at Liberty High School.
She’s amassed more than 1,000 career points as a four-year starter and is about 40 points behind Liz Hahner’s 1,108.
Cory has managed to score in every one of her 90 or so games, which is a school record.
“You look to her for leadership and the ability to get big baskets and big rebounds,” Liberty coach Rod Fletcher said about his senior post.
“She’s not a vocal leader,” he continued. “She leads by example.”
The unassuming athlete was surprised to learn of her place among Liberty’s scoring leaders. “He must have counted it wrong,” she said was her initial reaction to learning she broke the 1,000-point barrier after a game against Tekoa-Oakesdale in late January. But, such a prodigious career had a rather unspectacular beginning.
Cory started playing basketball when she was in the third grade, mainly because her friends were doing it.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t know what a basketball was,” she said of those early days. “They tried to explain it to me, but I still didn’t have a clue.
“But it was fun and I kept playing and I got hooked.”
Cory’s high school basketball career began in a similarly unpredictable way. Injuries hit Liberty in the beginning of the year, and Cory was thrust into the starting lineup in the first game of the season.
“I was scared out of my mind,” Cory said of her first game, which was against Garfield-Palouse. “I remember stupid shots that hit the side of the backboard.”
She ended up starting in 15 of 23 games that year and every other game since. In fact, Fletcher can’t recall Cory ever missing a practice.
Over her high-school career Cory has earned 10 letters as a member of Liberty’s basketball, volleyball and track teams.
Though her days playing for the Lancers are nearly over, her basketball days could continue for a while. Drawing some interest from area schools, Cory is planning to try out for the Ricks Colleges basketball team, or possibly for Whitworth College.
A national-honor student with a 3.8 grade-point average, Cory, 17, is part of large household with six brothers and sisters. Lancer opponents should be thankful Cory doesn’t play basketball as well as she plays piano.
“It would be my dream to be a wonderful performing pianist, traveling around,” she said. But, with the limited job stability musicians have, Cory is planning to major in accounting instead and minor in music, perhaps to teach piano later on.
Cory began excelling at the piano her freshman year after letting her practice lapse for a few years. She took it up again because her younger sister, Jena, began getting good.
“I couldn’t let her beat me,” she said.
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