When you’re the reigning offensive player of the year in the district, it actually gets harder, not easier, to produce on offense like you did in the past.
That’s the challenge that confronts Martin’s Emily Slagle. But the senior forward isn’t one to back down from a challenge. Despite teams trying new ways to deny her the ball and make it hard for her to get off shots, Slagle is averaging a team-leading 14 points a game entering this week. She also leads the team in rebounds and had helped the Lady Warriors get out to an 11-2 record and a 3-1 start in District 3-5A.
“I have had to figure out new ways and score and do what I like doing best,” Slagle said.
In other words, Slagle’s always worked hard in the past for every point and every rebound and is now working even harder than she did before. The whole team, in fact, has taken on this trait, said coach Brooke Brittain.
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“What drives success is these kids,” Brittain said. “They’re absolutely wonderful, hard workers. They’re committed to the program. They’re committed to each other.”
Martin, which finished tied for second in district a season ago and reached the area round of the playoffs, has a motto for the season: committed beyond convenience. Slagle demonstrated that motto in the off-season by working on her one-on-one skills, ball skills and new methods of attacking the basket.
“Slagle’s a gym rat,” Brittain said of Slagle, who is also among six Lady Warriors who are members of the National Honor Society. “She lives in the gym. She was offensive player of the year in the district for a reason. She’s a worker.”
Every tireless team captain needs a partner. And co-captain Bailey Carpenter’s game is an ideal complement to Slagle’s high-effort style. Brittain said Carpenter, who is second on the team in points at seven per game and has 22 steals so far on the season, is the type of player who is always in the right spot to make a play. Whether it’s snaring a key rebound or knifing inside for a crucial basket, Carpenter excels at making contributions when they’re needed most.
“She has a great presence on the court for us,” Brittain said of the junior guard. “She has a confidence and a calm to her. She’s also very clever. She gets to the hoop. Her presence almost isn’t fully noticed until she’s not in there.”
Carpenter enjoys her reputation as a pesky player for opponents to try to handle. “Coach calls me sneaky,” Carpenter said. “She says I always weave in and out of people. The moments it’s needed, I always find a way to get it done.”
Sophomore point guard Gabby Bell, who is one of two sophomores in the starting lineup, sets Slagle and other players up for success by making smart decisions with whether to keep the basketball and shoot or whether to give it up to a teammate for an open shot, Slagle said.
“I think her offense comes from her defense,” Slagle said. “Her defense is intense. She can steal the ball, and she’s really quick. I think that helps me on offense: her defense and being able to attack and kick it out.”
Hard work, smart play, key contributions when the game’s on the line: It all adds up Slagle and the Lady Warriors being a team committed to a common cause of going after a district title and get as far as effort and determination can take a team.
“I think everyone says they’re committed,” Slagle said. “That to us means whether we think we can handle it or not we still put in the work as a team. If we’re mentally drained or physically we’re not going to slack off a day. We’re just going to keep working.”