As the Martin girls basketball team improves after a slow start to the season, senior guard Bailey Carpenter knows the Lady Warriors’ fate is in the players’ hands. And that’s fine with her.
“Our theme this year is ‘Rendezvous with destiny,’” Carpenter said. “We decide our destiny on the court.”
Although Martin’s overall record leaves something to be desired (6-10 through the first 16 games), the squad has gotten better lately and, as a result, appears to be on a course for making the postseason. The Lady Warriors had a 4-2 mark in District 4-6A play headed into Friday’s home game against Fort Worth Paschal. The team’s steady improvement has come, in large part, from Carpenter, fellow senior Lexis Weber and juniors Gabby Bell and Maddie Karickhoff getting on the same page offensively.
“We have to react to each other,” Karickhoff said of the Martin offense. “If you’re not having the ball, you have to react to whatever the person with the ball does. … It allows us to think of all the options and have an open mind.”
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There are no set plays in Martin coach Brooke Brittain’s read-and-react system. And there’s no one set go-to scorer. Last season, Emily Slagle led the team in scoring and was one of the district’s top all-around talents. Now, everyone in the Lady Warriors starting lineup has to be ready to pour in double figures if called upon.
“It’s not like we have just one person,” Weber said. “Everybody really does their part. … No one’s just like a go-to person who if they don’t score, we don’t win. Everybody does it.”
Bell, the starting point guard, is one of those who has taken on a larger scoring load. She deferred to the strongest shooters as a sophomore. But now she sometimes has to be one of the shotmakers. “It’s different than last year,” Bell said. “I’m actually looking to score.”
But Bell still has pass-first point guard instincts, which Carpenter said is a good thing. “Without her on the court, we still get it done,” Carpenter said. “But Gabby definitely helps. She sees the court well, keeps us under control and brings it down the floor. She’s definitely a creator, but this year she’s also looking to score. She’s a great teammate.”
Bell and her teammates are having more success creating offense lately. Martin put up 57, 62 and 50 points in recent wins against Lamar, Sam Houston and Weatherford. After a setback at Bowie on Jan. 13, the Lady Warriors are focused on trying to play consistently well for the rest of the season and finish at least second in the district. And they still hope to give Bowie a run for the district title.
“We quietly wanted to hunt first this year, but we’re not in a position to control that,” Brittain said. “But we have good kids who always work hard.”
Martin’s work ethic includes a commitment to communicating well during games. Karickhoff said there’s constant feedback among the players about what’s working well and what adjustments they need to make. The read-and-react offense demands that everyone understands her responsibilities.
“The more vocal leaders we are, the better we are on the court [and] the more people we have who understand what needs to be done,” Karickhoff said.
And when the system is run well, the players can take a lot of satisfaction in the decisions they make on the court. “The coach empowers us to play a large role,” Carpenter said. “It’s a great way to learn the game.”