Marty Smith, Girls Basketball Team Close in on Top 10 Ranking, Area Play
A year ago, Marty Smith and the girls basketball program had 10 wins and would finish the season with 11. Flash forward to the present day and things look a lot different. The Warriors are 13-5 with a road area win in their back pocket.
The chemistry experiment is progressing well in year two, but Coach Smith says it isn’t finished and their best days could very well be ahead of them.
“They’re understanding what I’m expecting of them and each player individually. Some may have weak points where others have strong points and we’re able to mask that when we play together as a unit,” says Smith. “We’ve been able to improve as a program and it’s allowed players to improve on their deficiencies and because of that we’re getting better play from everybody.”
Such improvement over an abnormal spring and summer wasn’t expected, but while many teams didn’t progress, Thompson drew closer together. It wasn’t easy and there were many obstacles, but improve they did. Particularly when the girls got back playing ball.
“The thing that hurt us the most from not having a quality offseason was it didn’t allow us to grow together as a team. Focusing on becoming one heartbeat day in and day out. I️ started seeing some positive things when we came back to school and I saw a bond develop that I️ hadn’t seen in this program,” said Smith. They realized they were all they had and that they needed each other off the court than on the court. Then it began to translate to the court because they didn’t want to let each other down out there.”
Warriors fans have seen it play out in real time and one can’t help but be impressed with the results. The team has coalesced around its upperclassman leaders and Alicia Reasor is another example of skill with even more untapped potential. She also leads the team in scoring with 13.8 points per game and steals with 3.2.
“The thing about Alicia is she’s still growing as a basketball player. I’ve been proud of her maturity toward the game and what I mean by that is her preparation, what it takes mentally and physically to play at a high level,” says Smith. “Then you add the fact that she works to make herself better and when you add all those intangibles together good things start growing and happening.”
Seniors Lindsey Cook and Alayah King have been steady hands and leaders for Thompson, but in starkly different ways. Cook gives a consistent effort on both ends averaging double digits in scoring and second in rebounding.
“Lindsay is a natural-born leader. She doesn’t have a problem with speaking up and saying things that need to be said, but she’s going to back up what she’s saying as well through her actions,” said Smith. “She told me after the game at Tuscaloosa County ‘That’s the first time we’ve beat them there in years’ and she’s trying to understand the history of Thompson basketball, but also to establish what my staff and I are trying to accomplish and that’s to build a program that can be successful year in, year out, on and off the court. Plus, she’s the ultimate competitor.”
King is relentless on both ends of the floor skying for rebounds and getting into the easy baskets to draw contact. The Warriors respond to her energy and feed off the effort and tenacity she plays with every night.
“I’ve been coaching over 25-plus years and she is easily one of the top 5 athletes I’ve ever coached. She has so much God given ability and she’s really learned to funnel that into being a ball of energy for our team,” says Smith. “She’s really taken on that challenge of being a senior leader and she’s constantly working on her game to improve. A lot of people don’t take hold of that opportunity, but she has.”
Malaysia Samuel has also been a huge help in the paint since her return from an injury that kept her out of the first few games of the season. The junior leads Thompson in rebounds and is another player Coach Smith sees great things for down the road.
“There’s still another level she can go to. The sky’s the limit with her and she’s got ability she’s still tapping into,” said Smith. “The thing that she brings to us is that mental toughness, but also the physical toughness that we need on the inside. I’m proud that even though she’s behind because of the injuries and is still recuperating from them that she still brings that mental toughness to the table.”
From the beginning of preseason practices to now, Smith sees the growth and maturity his team has cultivated. A group of young ladies that play for the name on the front of the jersey. And each other.
“As a coach you always wonder what the dynamic of your team is going to be and I️ wondered what kind of camaraderie we could achieve when we were away from each other. And to see these ladies push, root for and support each other and now we’re becoming that heart beat.”