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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Martin to help out CRC's inside game

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thayer's Laken Martin signed a letter of intent April 2 to play basketball at Crowley's Ridge College in Paragould next fall. From left are: Kristi Chester, Tye Clothier, Laken Martin, Dilia Martin and Todd Martin. [Order this photo]
At any level of the game of basketball, it's great to have players that can shoot the outside shot on your team.

However, the teams that become special ones are the ones that can balance that outside firepower with a healthy dose of strength inside the paint.

And as anyone who has seen the Thayer Lady Bobcats play the past few seasons can attest to, Laken Martin has provided plenty of muscle and power around the basket for her squad in the green-and-white.

So when Crowley's Ridge College (CRC) Head Coach Tye Clothier was looking for players to beef up his team's inside presence for next fall, he knew right where to look.

Thayer High School and Laken Martin.

Martin signed a letter of intent to play basketball for the CRC Lady Pioneers in Paragould in a signing ceremony held April 2 at THS.

And according to Clothier, Martin was just what he was looking for.

"We're going to be in need of some post play the next few years and the way that she plays -- she's real physical down low -- is just what we need," he said. "We're playing with a lot of guards I recruited last year and we're losing our starting and backup post player."

As a senior, Martin averaged 12 points per game, while pulling down seven rebounds, handing out one assist and grabbing one steal per outing.

"I saw some film on her and then got to meet her, and I thought she would be perfect in our system," Clothier said.

Martin shot 50-percent from the floor and 62-percent from the free throw line as a senior, earning honorable mention All-SCA and All-District honors this past winter for the Lady Cats.

"Laken has been the primary inside player for us the past few years. She is left-handed and that is a great advantage for any player," said Lady Bobcat Head Coach Kristi Chester. "She is good at scoring under the basket on the left block and I think Laken will learn a lot and improve her game at the college level."

As for any athlete making the step from high school to the college level finds out, the game not only moves much faster at the next level, the physical nature of battle is also ratcheted up a couple of notches, as well.

"The game is lot more physical at the college level and a lot of my freshmen have learned that," said Clothier. "There's a possibility that we may red-shirt her, just to get her acclimated to things. But I can see her making a pretty good contribution next year if we don't red-shirt her. But I do know in the next few years she will make a contribution."

With plans to major in education at CRC, Martin will also have to juggle class-room time with increased time in the gymnasium.

And Clothier thinks she do just fine handling both important tasks at CRC.

"It's a huge jump and that's the thing that I look for when recruiting -- really that drive. You can usually see it when you watch them play and talk to people that know them and what kind of work ethic they have," Clothier said. "And Laken really fits that bill. It takes a lot of energy and time to balance studies with practices and travel, so it does take a special kind of person to fit that bill and I think she does."

Clothier is hoping that this spring's recruiting class will be able to pay dividends for the Lady Pioneers, sooner, rather than later.

"It's (recruiting) shaping up pretty good. Laken was the first of three signees in the past three days. I've been traveling around Arkansas getting some names on some papers for us," he said. "And we've got a couple of other girls coming in. We've got a lot of talented shooters on the team, but we're really trying to get some size. We just were not real big last year, so a lot of time we ran five guards out there."

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