No. 1 Martin’s Mill Routs Slocum to Secure Eighth Consecutive State Tournament Berth
TYLER — You’ve probably heard this before: the Martin’s Mill Lady Mustangs are headed back to state.
Martin’s Mill will travel to Austin for the UIL state tournament for the eighth consecutive year after dismantling the Slocum 70-34 in the Class A Division I Region III championship Saturday at Tyler Junior College’s Wagstaff Gymnasium.
Haily Jenkins put on a clinic, dropping 30 points, including five three-pointers, seven rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. The McNeese State signee notched 14 in the first quarter, had 20 by halftime, and hit her final triple with less than a minute remaining in the third to round out her stat line.
“Haily is special. She’s always trying to bring her game up another notch,” said Martin’s Mill coach Doug Barncastle. “She battled early (in the year) with her ACL injury coming back. She’s going to find a way to make it happen. After one of those threes, she threw out a smile, she knew she was feeling it. I can’t say enough about her.”
Teammate Cheyenne Brown, a sophomore, added her customary double-double, finishing with 20 points and a game-high 12 boards. Senior post Megan Weatherford added eight points, four rebounds, and three assists, while fellow senior Taylor Munns tallied five points and four boards and had the duty of guarding Slocum’s leading scorer, Valerie Larkin.
“Coach told me that (Larkin) was their main scorer,” said Munns. “She gets the team going, and that’s how they get their points. I needed to come out focused and shut her down. I just played lockdown defense because that’s what I know how to do.”
Munns was up to the task. Larkin, who averages 20 points per game, was held scoreless.
“Taylor Munns is very underrated. They don’t give her a lot of credit, because everyone looks at the score book,” Barncastle said. “She took the team’s leading scorer and shut her down to zero points. That’s just one of the intangibles that Taylor brings. She’s a coaches dream. She goes hard every day, 100 percent.”
Martin’s Mill opened the contest on a 16-2 run started by Jenkins finding Alyssa Pate for the open trey and capped off by Jenkins’ back-to-back three-pointers. After a Cassidy McCoy three-ball, Jenkins hit a cutting Brown for a layup, and it was 28-5 before Slocum could blink.
The second frame was more of the same. Weatherford hit a jumper at the top of the key, followed by a Brown three-point play, pushing Martin’s Mill’s lead to 30 points, 41-11. Brown’s putback gave Martin’s Mill a 43-11 halftime lead.
“Going back to state is a privilege. We couldn’t ask for anything more,” Brown said. “With these four seniors, I grew up playing with them and we want this so bad. I want it. We all just had to step up and work as a team, and I couldn’t ask for a better group to do it with.”
Slocum (32-4) started the second half on a 6-0 spurt thanks to a pair of threes by Landry Lane and Kelsie Webb. But McCoy made a nice entry pass to Brown, who finished a three-point play, and after Jenkins hit a pair of three-pointers, Martin’s Mill’s lead swelled to 58-24 late in the third.
“This group means so much to me. They helped me through (the knee injury),” Jenkins said. “It was a very tough time, So, to come off an ACL and have so much support, it helped tremendously. It helped us get where we are today. Knowing that we’re rolling as a team and everyone came ready to play is such a good feeling.”
Sophomore Kelsie Webb led Slocum with 15 points on five three-pointers and pulled down four boards. Jordan Ives and Landry Lane each scored six points.
“This senior class is special. They’ve been on varsity since (they were) freshmen. They just know how to win,” Barncastle said. “I’m so proud of every single one of them. I told them, ‘It took everyone on this team to get us where we are today.’ Starting with our first state title in 2006, it’s all part of them growing up together.”