Martin point guard Gabby Bell has been a mainstay in the starting lineup since she was a freshman. In those early days, she brought plenty of energy but also some of the inconsistency that comes with inexperience.
Now in her final high school season, Bell’s still got plenty of pep in her step, but now she maintains a more controlled approach that aids in her decision making and her ability to get her teammates involved.
“I have more poise and control,” said Bell, who helped lead Martin to the regional quarterfinal round of the playoffs as a junior. “When I was a freshman and a starting varsity player, I was running around everywhere. Now that I’m a senior, I have more control and more confidence.”
Bell and senior teammates Madeline Karickhoff and Sidney Reeves are using that maturity and experience to outwit and outwork opponents. The Lady Warriors enter 4-6A play this week with their sights set on winning district and improving on a 2015 playoff run that was the best in program history.
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“The team’s grown together. We already have the chemistry right away,” Karickhoff said. “So we have that part out of the way. We don’t have to build the chemistry. We’re all skilled, so we work together to play team ball.”
Martin won the recent Lions Club Tournament at Thomas Coliseum in Haltom City. The team had to settle for second place in the same tournament a year ago. The Lady Warriors routed The Colony in the championship game this time around.
“We started out kind of rough,” Karickhoff said of the championship game. “We decided not to lower our standards … and played up to our capabilities.”
Despite the success, nothing in the tournament came easy. In an earlier round, Martin struggled to defeat Birdville. The Lady Warriors eventually held the host team off for a 60-54 victory. Birdville, which defeated Martin in the championship game of the tournament a season ago, had previously lost to the Lady Warriors by more than 30 points earlier this season.
“They had scouted us,” Karickhoff said of Birdville. “We had to work really hard. … It was good for us.”
Winning might be hard work, but no one person has to shoulder the scoring load. The team boasts multiple double-digit scorers, including Reeves, a guard who is in the starting lineup this season after being a key reserve player as a junior.
“To start off in a groove kind of helps me,” Reeves said of being in the starting lineup. “And with the girls coming off the bench, I know where they’re coming from. … So I can help them get in the game and get up to speed.”
Martin can rely on a bevy of accurate shooters, including the aforementioned trio of seniors plus junior Tiara Malone. But the Lady Warriors’ success isn’t sparked by what they do on the offensive end of the floor.
“We feed off of our defense, and defense gets our offense going,” Bell said. We get our fuel from defense.”