March 18, 2021
Catara DeJarnette can still remember tagging along with her father to her brother D.J.’s basketball practices. She didn’t just watch him practice, but also picked up a ball and began to dribble, shoot and participate in games of knockout. The Kenston junior had grown up with the sport and fell in love with it the same way her father did.
Any longtime resident of Kenston will recognize the name DeJarnette instantly. After all her father Derrick is an icon when it comes to Kenston basketball as he holds the all-time scoring record during his four-year tour as a starter with the Bombers. It didn’t take long for the Bombers’ junior point guard to realize how much basketball truly meant to her family.
When she went to her father and told him she wanted to get on the court she got a mixed reaction from him. He was happy that she wanted to get in the game but made it clear that she needed to be serious about it. Basketball was not something to mess around with under his watch.
“I really did get started playing serious basketball in fourth or fifth grade when I started playing AAU seasons. That’s when I really knew that I wanted to play basketball because it was like I loved it, I loved being around it, I loved watching it and knew what was going on and I just loved being around it so I knew I wanted to take it seriously,” smiled the Kenston point guard.
DeJarnette put in the work day in and day out. By the time she had reached junior high school people were already talking about her. While the last name garnered her attention all anyone had to do was take a look at what she could do on the court. It was clear she had game and wasn’t just coasting on the family name.
“I had heard of her and heard that she was really good. I heard that she was Derrick’s daughter but everybody told me ‘We have a really good player,’” recalled Kenston Bombers girls basketball coach John Misenko. “Kids were telling me that she was really good so I ended up going down to a middle school game and watching her play and I remember watching her just make passes that I couldn’t believe that she saw.”
Coach Misenko was entering his second year as the girls basketball coach and could not have been more excited at the prospect of getting to coach DeJarnette. The Bombers needed to shore up the point guard position with senior Corenna Maynard departing for college so DeJarnette was coming in at a great time.
Upon arriving in high school the 5-foot-5 freshman could hear the whispers around her. There was chatter saying she had only cracked the varsity roster because of her last name and the fact that her father had just been hired as the new head coach of the boys team. She just blocked out the noise and let her game speak for itself. That quieted the naysayers.
After showing what she could do on the court the upperclassmen knew that the freshman guard would emerge as a leader after they departed. They took her under their wing and instilled what it meant to be a leader.
“They pushed me to do things that I wasn’t really comfortable with because I’m not really a talkative person. I’m really kind of a shy person so they pushed me to have that voice and be that leader that I needed to be,” said DeJarnette.
It didn’t take long for her to find her voice. At first it was difficult for her to challenge her teammates on the court out of fear that she may hurt some feelings. The Bombers’ point guard quickly got over it because while she didn’t want to step on toes she hated losing even more.
“It’s to make them better. There’s no hard feelings. I just want to win. If that’s what it takes to win then I have to do it. It makes you better,” chuckled DeJarnette. “If Misenko’s yelling at me then I’m yelling at you guys. You have to feel the pain I’m getting from Misenko.”
The Kenston junior guard continued to raise her game to the next level throughout her first two years in the program but hadn’t truly experienced the postseason as the Bombers bowed out of the playoffs in the first round the last two years. Despite a season riddled with schedule changes because of the pandemic DeJarnette was determined to vault her team past the first round this time. The Bombers achieved that goal by taking down neighborhood rival Chagrin Falls in the sectional semifinals for DeJarnette’s first career high school playoff victory. She kept the train rolling by leading Kenston past Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin into the district semifinals but the ride came to an end with a loss to Salem.
Although the season was over DeJarnette had a lot to be proud of. She had stepped her game up on the defensive side of the ball and ended up scoring 333 points in just 18 games after tallying 361 points in 22 games last year. The Kenston junior has tallied 953 points over her high school career and it seems very likely that the Bombers will add another DeJarnette to the 1,000 point club next season. She has already started talking with colleges and is hopeful that another strong AAU season will open the floodgates for the offers to come pouring in. DeJarnette has her eyes set on playing college ball at a Division I program but is keeping her mindset on the here and now.