Their world’s first collided in middle school, the coach’s daughter at South Forsyth and the converted swimmer at Vickery Creek.
Sarah Myers remembers her first impression of Jenna Staiti was the same as, well, everyone’s first impression of Staiti: her height. But, as a coach’s daughter, she also quickly noticed a more subtle part of Staiti’s game.
“She had really good hands,” Myers said. “Most players that big aren’t as coordinated as she was.”
Staiti remembers her first impression of Myers was of the guard’s lethally-quick shooting touch.
“Oh my god, that 3-pointer,” Staiti said.
Together they’ve left an indelible impression on Forsyth County high school girls basketball.
Their dynamic talents have coincided with unprecedented accomplishments at their respective schools, in turn pushing the sport’s expectations in the county and reputation in the state, culminating this past Wednesday when both signed national letters of intent to play for women’s college basketball powerhouse Maryland as part of the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class, according to ESPN’s HoopGurlz.
Myers, the 2013-14 Forsyth County News’ Girls Basketball Player of the Year, has helped South Forsyth reach the Class AAAAAA playoffs three consecutive seasons. Her sophomore season the Lady War Eagles became the first Forsyth County girls basketball team to reach the state semifinals in the Georgia High School Association playoffs since 1965. Last season she led South to the Region 6-AAAAAA championship while averaging 20.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.6 assists a game.
Staiti, the 2014-15 Forsyth County News’ Girls Basketball Player of the Year, has helped West Forsyth reach the Class AAAAAA playoffs in back-to-back seasons, tripling the program’s number of state playoff appearances since she arrived. Last season she led West to a school-best 21-6 record while averaging 29 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks a game.
They’ve been all-county, all-region, all-state, but each came to this notable place in county history by diametrically different paths.
Myers was groomed on the hardcourt by her father, Jeff. She was 8 when she played on her first travel basketball team, the Atlanta Cagers, coached by her dad and Rodney Storms. Around the fifth grade, Myers’s game started to elevate beyond her peers; she played on a Cagers team with older girls and attended her first college camp. At South Forsyth Middle she won county championships.
“Things just kind of started clicking,” Myers said. “I kind of understood things more than girls my age did.”
Staiti grew up in the pool, becoming a county record-holder and nationally-ranked in the backstroke. But Rodney Storms saw Staiti’s height and talent at the middle school level and cajoled her to join the Cagers in eighth grade.
“That was the best decision ever to play with them,” Staiti said.
The two made an instant connection on the court, and it carried over off it, through the recruiting trips to Maryland, where they committed the summer before their sophomore year of the high school and the seasons of competing against each other for region titles and country bragging rights.
Next season, at Maryland, their basketball journeys will join permanently, two one-of-a-kind players from Forsyth County stepping into the spotlight of the women’s college basketball world.
“I really think it’s going to be a new experience that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life,” Myers said. “I’m really excited.”
“The [Maryland players] tell me everyone loves women’s basketball up at Maryland,” Staiti said. “There are so many fans. I think it’s going to be awesome to get to know new people and get to play for an amazing program.”