Megan Jonassen saw what was down both roads.
She’d experienced new heights, as a sophomore, winning Pioneer Athletic Conference and District 1 championships. She’d experienced unexpected lows, as a junior, of finishing with a sub-.500 record and a winless try in the postseason.
There was little debate which path the 6-1 forward intended to travel in her senior season.
“I was really frustrated from junior year, but I put all that energy into practices and getting better,” Jonassen said. “It made us so much hungrier for winning and being more successful. It’s our last year so it was our last chance to make our mark. Not having a successful year last year made us want it so much more.”
You could literally see where her sights were set, as Perkiomen Valley coach John Strawoet tells it.
“She came into practice and all you had to do was look into her eyes,” said Strawoet, who retired at season’s end after a four-year run as Vikings’ head man. “You looked into her eyes and you could tell she was coming in to compete and give you 100 percent all the time. And she did, even in practice she did. The hard work ethic she brought every day was so important to the team.”
A motivated Jonassen was a force on both ends of the floor, leading the Pioneer Athletic Conference in scoring with 17.5 points per game and 23 double-doubles, while leading the Vikings to the PAC championship game and a return to the PIAA Class 6A tournament.
The Fordham University recruit finished second in career points (1,538) in PV program history and became the first to have more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds while garnering Pa. All-State Second Team honors and The Mercury’s All-Area Player of the Year award.
Thousand-point scorers gain attention for the feat each season. Surpassing 1,000 rebounds — Jonassen finished with 1,309 for her career — is more rare and more telling about Jonassen’s excellence. Beyond not coming in twos and threes, that accomplishment speaks to a player battling on both sides of the ball, competing for every loose ball consistently through her scholastic career.
As Jonassen sees it, that unwavering motor has always been in her.
“I think it’s natural for me,” she said. “I’m a very competitive person so I want to go out there and do the best I can, hustle and give it my all always. Being such a competitive person brought the (assertiveness) out of me naturally.”
“It’s funny, when I first saw her play, she jumped up and the ball was away from her body and she took one hand out and grabbed the ball and brought it back in and I said, ‘Oh my, there are just not too many girls that can do that,’” Strawoet said. “Being old school myself, rebounding is hugely important to me. I thought, ‘Wow, what a player.’ And she’s done that consistently, even since eighth grade, all the way through.”
Athleticism and strength do run in the family: her father Eric, husband of Jennifer, was a former Penn State and Bloomsburg offensive lineman who went on to a five-year NFL career in the early 1990s primarily with the San Diego Chargers. Older brother Seth, a 2014 Perk Valley grad and former All-Area football first team selection, followed in father Eric’s footsteps and is a starting offensive lineman at Bloomsburg, where Eric was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.
What wasn’t in Megan from the start were the elements of her game she added in the past few seasons.
“I really worked on my dribbling, bringing the ball up the court, as well as a jump shot,” Jonassen said of her offseason work. “I didn’t shoot too many 3-pointers, but I definitely worked a lot on having a mid-range jump shot.”
Jonassen, who started in basketball at age 5 and played with the Collegeville Jaguars in her middle school and early high school days, credits her time over the past two years with coach John McFadden and the Comets AAU program, based in Delaware County, for seeing her game go to the next level.
“There is nobody who can go to the hole as strong as Meg can,” Strawoet said. “But I think she recognized that she needed to learn to go to the left more and she had to hit that mid-range jumper. Everyone knew she was going to go to the hole strong. The amazing part about Meg was that even though some teams double-teamed her, and sometimes even triple-teamed, she was still able to score when she took it to the hole. Being able to hit that mid-range shot, she learned that helped set up her drives.”
Jonassen especially enjoyed playing alongside front-court mate Taylor Hamm, and creating the Twin Towers attack for Perkiomen Valley.
“I love playing with her. She’s a great player and I feel like our chemistry together was really strong and kind of peaked this year,” Jonassen said of her fellow All-Area first team pick.
Perk Valley put together a 21-9 season that included a season sweep of defending PAC and PIAA 6A champion Boyertown and dealing Spring-Ford its first loss — Jonassen scored a game-high 20 points — after a 15-0 start on Jan. 25. The Vikings opened the postseason with a PAC semifinal win over Pope John Paul II before a rubber match with Spring-Ford in the league final, which went the way of the Rams, 54-45.
The Vikings had to claw their way through consolations in the District 1 Class 6A championships and managed to do so in the 9-10 playback with a 43-34 win over Great Valley before a PIAA berth-clinching 60-53 win over Downingtown East, where Jonassen dominated with 27 points.
The season ended with back-to-back losses in the District 1 9th-place game and the first round of states (59-42 loss to District 11 champion Freedom), but considering the final stops of the previous two seasons, a 21-9 record and qualification to the state tournament was a result worth satisfaction.
“(As a sophomore), the feeling of winning the PAC championship and then the district championship especially, it set a goal and set a high standard we kept working toward the next two years,” Jonassen said. “This year we made it to the PAC championship, which was so exciting. It didn’t go in our favor, but getting to that point was a goal and making it to states was also a goal.”
In retrospect, those goals were always attainable. You just had to look into Jonassen’s eyes.