By Nate Thompson

SHELBY – The basketball coaches at Shelby High School wish there was an unlimited supply of Beckmans.

DJ, Jason and Danny, as well as cousins Jeffrey and Andrew and other Beckman family members, have helped bring years of success to the Shelby boys program.

Jenny Beckman – their younger sister and cousin – has had the same impact over the last four years with the girls varsity team.

After 87 games and 1,624 points scored, Jenny Beckman, a 5-foot-8 senior guard, is set to lead Shelby into the postseason one last time. The Tigers (16-4), will look to defend their Class C district title beginning Wednesday, when they battle a strong Mason County Central team on the Spartans’ home court.

With a solid 1-2 punch of Beckman and forward Tori Mussell, Shelby has a chance to make a serious run in the tournament.

Tori Mussell, head coach Sarah Wolting and Jenny Backman. Photo/Leo Valdez

When all is said and done, however, there’s no other Beckman in the immediate future waiting for their chance to shine for the Tigers.

“I am the last one,” said Beckman, who is averaging an incredible 26 points per game this season. “I think my parents (Dave and Kim) are going to miss it.”

Beckman said her parents have never missed one of her games, and while they may experience some Shelby basketball withdrawals, they still can look forward to plenty of college basketball games.

Beckman has narrowed her college choices to Hope College and Wheaton (Ill.) College, both traditionally strong Division 3 programs. Hope is a strong possibility, since Jenny’s parents are both alums, and older brothers Jason and Danny just helped the Flying Dutchmen win the MIAA league championship.

Shelby’s Jenny Beckman drives to the hoop against Oakridge. Photo/Tim Reilly

“I’m still not 100 percent sure where I’m going,” Beckman said. “I’ll know once the Lord tells me where I need to go.”

Wherever she ends up, Beckman will bring her sweet shooting touch with her. Shelby head coach Sarah Wolting said that’s the skill – along with her love of the game and passion to improve – that instantly jumps out when describing Beckman.

“One of the younger girls in our program asks me, ‘Why can’t my shot always go in like Jenny’s?’” Wolting said with a laugh. “And I always tell her, you have to realize that for Jenny to become a good shooter, she’s had to work on her shot every day. My daughter is going to be a freshman and she’s starting to realize that.

“Jenny’s been a great role model for the younger kids coming up.”

Beckman said she’s learned an incredible amount from her older brothers, as well as her older sister, Jodi, who played at Shelby but not at the college level.

Brother DJ played four years at Alma College, while Jason started at Alma, but then transferred to Hope for his junior season. He was joined at Hope by Danny this winter.

Together, they’ve helped Jenny become the player she is today – the face of the program who has connected on 48 percent of her career shots, including 34 percent from beyond the three-point line.

Tori Mussell gets the rebound against Oakridge earlier this season. Photo/Sherry Wahr

“I’m so much better because of them, just from all the years competing with them and against them,” she said. “I love playing with them.”

Beckman and the Tigers have also benefitted from having Mussell in the lineup for most of the past four years.

The senior post player is the one who does a lot of the dirty work, and does it well.

Despite only standing 5-7, Mussell averages about 12 rebounds per game. That’s because she’s smart and tough, and beats a lot of taller players to the ball as its coming off the rim.

“She’s pretty tough,” Wolting said about Mussell. “She reads where stuff is coming off the rim, plays quick and jumps well. She is by far the strongest girl around.”

Mussell also adds to the Tiger attack by averaging around 12 points per game. She gets a lot of her points with putbacks after snagging offensive rebounds, and is also effective driving the lane, according to Wolting.

Mussell’s defensive rebounds also produce a lot of points for Beckman, according to her coach.

“She just reads it well and is quick and puts it back up before the defender can get there,” Wolting said about Mussell’s points in the paint. “She’s also great in defensive rebounding. She knows Jen will be up ahead of the play, and she gets the ball to her so Jen can get a lot of easy layups.”