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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Unselfish Highlands Team Gesture

Martin, Barth hand all-tournament honors to injured teammates

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior and the 36th District Tournament's Most Valuable Player in Macy Gabbard (right) and sophomore Chloe Jansen (second from right) pose with other members of the all-tournament team on Thursday. Teammates Jenna Martin and Zoie Barth passed the honors to their injured teammates.
People generally forget who made the all-tournament team as the years pass in all rounds.

But this year's 36th District Girls Basketball Tournament at Dayton may be an exception to that rule thanks to an act of kindness. After beating Newport Central Catholic, 69-41 to claim their fourth district championship in five years, the coaching staff unsurprisingly named sophomore Zoie Barth as the tournament's Most Valuable Player and senior Jenna Martin to the team.

But instead of accepting the awards, the dynamic duo gave them to injured teammates. Barth gave the MVP award to senior Macy Gabbard and Martin gave her award to sophomore Chloe Jansen.

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"That's what our program is about - the unselfishness," said Jaime Walz-Richey, Highlands Head Coach and the school's all-time career point scorer with 4,948 good for second in Kentucky for both boys and girls. "It's not one person. It's a whole team. I gave a spiel the other day about how when I played, it wasn't just Jaime Walz. I had teammates that helped. Those teammates knew I needed them. That's the same philosophy here now as a coach. They understand we all need each other. It was awesome to see Jenna and Zoie do that."

Barth and Martin have led the Ladybirds all season. Highlands owns a 22-8 record entering the 9th Region Tournament starting Monday at BB&T Arena on the campus of Northern Kentucky University. The Ladybirds won their fourth 36th District championship in the last five years Thursday with a 69-41 win over Newport Central Catholic at Dayton and have claimed their fifth straight season of 20 or more victories.

"(Chloe) has worked really hard and I've worked really hard, but it wasn't even a hesitation," Martin said. "Zoie knew that Macy was a part of our team just as much as she is and Chloe is just as much a part of the team as I am."

Gabbard injured her right Anterior Cruciated Ligament and Medial Collateral Ligament in the season-opening loss at Louisville Sacred Heart. Those are two of four major ligaments that hold the knee joint together.

"It just shows how much of a team we are and how much we all are a big family and we love each other," Gabbard said. "We all support each other in everything we do. My team worked so hard and I didn't want to give up on them."

Martin has a team-high 510 points on the year for an average of 17 per game and Barth has 422 for an average of 14.6 a game. Barth is second on the team with 127 rebounds for an average of 4.4 per game.

"It was definitely a way to thank Macy," Barth said. "(Her injury) was really heartbreaking for all of us. We were there for her every step of the way. We would never wish that upon anyone, especially Macy. After that, she still showed up to every single practice and every single game, team dinner. You name it. She was there. She's one of my best friends off the court. She's an all-around good person."

Jansen left the district championship game with 1:21 left in the first quarter. After going into the training room, Jansen returned to the bench in the second quarter and had an ice pack on her left leg. Her availability for the region tournament is unknown at this time.

"It just meant a lot because it showed how much she appreciated the effort everybody put into the game," Jansen said. "It was hard for me to sit out the rest of that game. I was shocked that they gave (the awards) to (Macy and I) because I was expecting them to get it. It's emotional that they gave it to Macy and me."

Highlands finished their season against 33rd District runner-up Cooper (20-7) on Monday in the 9th Region Quarterfinals. The game, which was played at BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky University, ended in a 77-62 loss for the Ladybirds.

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