Bill Choy, The Triplicate

Starting the year as the sixth man off the bench, former Del Norte Warrior Jalen Coney has played his way into a starting spot with the College of the Redwoods men's basketball team.

Coney, a 6-foot-4-inch post player, is averaging about 12 points per game for the Corsairs, who are 5-15 for the year,

"I'm doing good," Coney said in a phone interview with the Triplicate. "It's been a lot of fun."

Coney said constantly improving and refining his game has helped him land a starting spot.

"It feels good because I worked hard and earned it," he said.

The 2011 Del Norte graduate was raised in Crescent City and was named

to the Big 5 Conference first team as a senior, when he averaged 11

points and 12 rebounds per contest.

Coney didn't play varsity basketball until his senior year at Del

Norte. Now, he's proving his hoops ceiling is fairly high on the

collegiate level.

While many aspects of the game are like high school, others are quite different, he said.

"It's a lot faster pace," Coney said. "And there are better players. A lot better players."

Jalen loves being able to play his college ball a little more than an hour away from Crescent City in Eureka.

Many family members and friends have come to his home games.

"It helps me a lot," he said. "I like it that they're at the games. I  think it makes me play better."

His parents, Harold and Danielle Coney, have been to all the Corsairs' home contests.

Harold Coney said there is always a good sized-group of family members cheering Jalen on.

"Our whole family is so proud of him," Harold Coney said. "It's one

of the proudest moments of my life to watch my son play. We want to be

there for him and show him that his family supports him."

Asked what he felt was his best game so far this season, Coney said

it was when he scored 20 points off the bench against Southwestern

Community College on Dec. 4 in Eureka.

"I was just hitting every shot I took," he said.

When Coney signed with CR last year he was joined by his Warrior

teammate, shooting guard Nick McBride, who was named the Big 5 MVP and

averaged more than 22 points per game his senior year at Del Norte.

McBride played at the start of the season but was injured. He is currently not a member of the team, Redwood officials said.

After completing his sophomore year next season at CR, Coney hopes to

continue his studies at a four-year school and is hoping to continue

his hoops career as well.

"I'm hoping to go D-1," he said, referring to the highest level of

competition. While it will be a challenge, Coney said he is ready to put

the work in and hopefully receive an offer next year.

Coney said that he has enjoyed his studies at CR and he may pursue a forestry major.

Under first year coach Justin Mora, formerly the head coach at

Ferndale High School, CR recruited a number of local players from

schools like McKinleyville, Fortuna, Arcata and Ferndale.

Coney has enjoyed getting to know his former opponents as teammates.

"They're great guys," Coney said, adding that memories of high school

games where they faced each other have been topics of discussion.

"We do talk about some of those games and certain plays," he said. "I never thought I would play with them."

The CR coaching staff has helped him refine his game, Coney said.

"They are really good," Coney said. "They know a lot about the game. They have taught me a lot."

Harold Coney believes his son has what it takes to continue playing at the four-year level.

"I think his best days are yet to come," he said. "I believe he can continue to excel in basketball and in school."

"He still needs to improve his overall skills and bulk up, but I

believe the only person that can stop Jalen is Jalen. He just has to

keep working hard."

Reach Bill Choy at