People marvel over how Jackie Alois is such a talented defensive basketball center at a mere 5-foot-6.
Except there is something about that 5-6 she's listed as in the game program and team previews.
"I'm 5-4," she corrected. "I'll take the couple inches!"
Jackie, the third oldest of six athletic siblings (five girls and the youngest, a boy), will take the couple inches and anything else she wants. Alois, who just finished her junior year at Andover High, brings a rare toughness to the playing fields which has made her an award-winning three-sport standout.
The Alois (pronounced ah-loyce) clan prides itself on being tough.
"A lot has to do with competitiveness," said Jackie from the family's summer home on the Jersey shore. "Anything we do is a fight to see who can be the best. We have that extra fight."
That fight helped her hold some of the state's best to well under their averages this winter. That would include in the state tourney alone, 5-10 UNH recruit Elizabeth Belanger of Acton-Boxboro (12 points, 5-16 shooting), Central Catholic's 6-foot Super Teamer Casey McLaughlin (10 points), Braintree's powerful 6-1 Molly Reagan (10 points) and Holyoke's 6-1 Alison Littles (8 points).
Seventeenth-year basketball coach Jim Tildsley, who has guided Andover to five Division 1 state titles, including the last three straight, said, "She has the strongest hands of any player I've ever had. She's the hardest working, best conditioned athlete I've ever coached.
"She can cover all those big players because of all of the above plus her instincts, heart and determination."
She certainly is a unique player.
This spring she earned All-MVC honors in lacrosse after also being named All-MVC in basketball and soccer, and defense is her calling card in all three sports.