High Five: It’s always sunny when Jones is around

Published 8:30 am Saturday, December 9, 2023

Northside basketball standout Mariah Jones sat down for this interview on her 18th birthday earlier this week. The Belhaven resident reflected on her ubiquitous nickname, basketball, her upbeat personality and her membership in the 1,000 point club.

  1. It seems like everyone calls you Mimi. Who gave you that nickname and does anyone call you Mariah?

Mariah: Very few people have called me Mariah in the past, but more are starting to since I’m growing up. I’m fine with either. My mom started calling me Mimi after the Mariah Carey album (The Emancipation of Mimi). It came out shortly before I was born and my mom really likes her.

  1. You’ve played basketball most of your life. When did you get really interested in it?

Mariah: (Former Southside standout) Ka’Nyah O’Neal’s mom, Melody Harvey, was my first rec coach in Belhaven when I was six. She taught me how to play and made the game fun for us. I didn’t like it at first and stood in the corner biting my nails, but I got to know my teammates and it was fun after that.

  1. Ka’Nyah played for your rival and was your conference’s player of the year the past three years. Was it strange competing so hard against someone you’ve known most of your life?

Mariah: We’re still friends off the court, but it was business for both of us when we played each other. We went at it pretty good on the court because our whole team wanted to stop her and win. You can’t be nice; you just have to compete as hard as you can.

  1. Every time I’ve watched you practice or play, or even off the court, you are smiling and upbeat. Where does that come from?

Mariah: I don’t know, but I think it’s better to be happy. I stay that way most of the time, because it’s a waste to be sad. I do have my moments, but I wake up happy and I feel good. We have early morning basketball practices and I try to smile and joke around so everyone is in a good mood. We’re a better team when everyone is happy, so I try to bring the sunlight so we start the day right.

  1. What are your plans after graduation?

Mariah: I’d like to play basketball at UNC-Greensboro because of their early childhood education program. I love kids and want to teach young kids after I graduate. I am one of seven kids, so I’ve always watched my little sisters. I volunteered at the Belhaven Boys & Girls Club almost every day in the summer, so that’s what I want to do. I am also thinking of playing basketball at Louisburg College, then transferring.

Bonus questions: What does scoring your 1,000th career point mean and what kind of birthday cake do you like?

Mariah: It means a lot and I’m proud of myself for getting there. I did it at the very end of last season, but didn’t realize it. They recognized me before our first home game this season and it was really cool to have everyone applaud. My grandma was there, which was really neat. It was a great honor and I appreciate Coach Leathers helping me get there. My favorite cake would be vanilla with butter cream icing.