ETSN.fm Girls Basketball Player of the Year: Haily Jenkins
Martin's Mill senior Haily Jenkins left an indelible mark on girls high school basketball in East Texas -- if for no other reason because of the way her stellar career came to an end.
Facing a 10-point deficit in the Class A Division I state championship game with less than five minutes to play, Jenkins helped fuel a furious comeback and hit the game-winning shot in the final seconds to make Martin's Mill state champions for the first time since 2008.
It was a storybook ending to a senior year that began with knee surgery last April after a torn ACL.
For her efforts, Jenkins has been chosen as the ETSN.fm Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
"A player like Haily is irreplaceable, just with the dynamics of being able to shoot from the outside and her ability to get to the bucket and her ball handling," said Martin's Mill coach Doug Barncastle of Jenkins, a McNeese State signee. "She's going to be deeply missed along with our other seniors, but it's nice knowing she's going to play at the next level."
Jenkins, a 5-8 guard, averaged 17 points, five rebounds and five assists as a senior. She was the state tournament MVP, along with being named the 1A Player of the Year by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches.
"She was one that tried to get everyone involved," Barncastle said. "They looked to her in crunch time, obviously, because they knew her ability to hit a big shot, finish and score. There were so many games where she could've scored 40 or 50 points, but only scored 20 because she was trying to get (Cheyenne Brown) going in our post play, or she was trying to get (Taylor) Munns, (Meagan) Weatherford or Cassidy (McCoy) involved."
In the state semifinals against Snook, Jenkins missed a pair of free throws in the closing seconds of regulation that helped force overtime. But she made up for it in a big way two days later in the title game.
Jenkins scored 21 points in the championship game victory over Smyer, including the game-winning, pull-up jumper with 13 seconds remaining.
"In the semifinals, she didn't have her best game," Barncastle said. "But she always finds a way to make up for missed opportunities. We want the ball in her hands at the end of close games. I told her if (Smyer star post Kennedy Farr) was in the paint, she might have to pull up and make a quick decision. She pulled up for the jumper, and it seemed like it hit the bottom of the rim and took two hours to finally drop in."