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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Highlands Alum Makes Immediate Impact at Kentucky Wesleyan

Martin helps Panthers to Winning Record

Submitted Photo by KWC Athletics. Kentucky Wesleyan College guard Jenna Martin brings the ball up-court during the season. Martin, a 2017 Highlands graduate, started 24-of-27 games for the Panthers this past season averaging 25 minutes per game.
Jenna Martin did not wait long to make an impact at Kentucky Wesleyan College.

The 2017 Highlands graduate started in 24-of-27 games for the NCAA Division II KWC Panthers women's basketball team averaging 25 minutes per game. Kentucky Wesleyan finished 15-12 overall, 11-11 in Great Midwest Athletic Conference play losing 75-67 to Walsh University (Ohio) in the GMAC Tournament Quarterfinals. The Great Midwest includes teams such as Ohio Dominican University and the University of Findlay (Ohio).

Martin's former head coach at Notre Dame during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons in Wyatt Foust, now the head coach at Murray High, paved the way for Martin to attend Kentucky Wesleyan. Foust used to be a student assistant at KWC.

Martin entered the season as one of five freshmen on the squad. The Panthers also had just two seniors, one junior and four sophomores. Martin knew fellow freshman teammate Kaylee Clifford of Trimble County from playing Amateur Athletic Union basketball since her freshman year in high school.

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"The older girls on our team were really accepting," Martin said. "They were real patient with us while we were getting adjusted. I think our coaches helped us a lot. It just made everything so much easier having other people go through the process with you."

Martin said KWC plays an up-tempo style of basketball. Defensively, the Panthers play a lot of man-to-man full-court pressure defense to speed teams up and five-out, motion-type sets in the half-court offense. The offense involves a lot of cutting to get each other better looks at the basket. Martin said Highlands ran similar styles on both sides of the ball so she didn't have to learn too much new terminology.

Martin scored 319 points for an average of about 12.3 per game. Martin made 115-of-243 shots for 47 percent including 38-of-104 three-point tries for 36.5 percent and 51-of-73 free throws for just under 70 percent. Martin also had 78 rebounds, 53 assists, 61 turnovers and 46 steals.

"We pride our program on the controllables, specifically three controllables: Hard Work, Great Teammates, and Tough Minded," said Nicole Nieman, KWC Co-Head Coach. "Jenna was able to come in and contribute right away due to her ability to do all three of these things on a daily basis. She was willing to be coached. She was willing to improve and she really wanted to put forth her best every day. She was able to give energy to others and was willing to work with anyone on the team. She improved throughout the year on her mental toughness and it allowed her to focus on the process rather than the results. Therefore, she was able to learn how to play with more consistency."

Martin had to attend study tables her first semester. But she said that is not required if student-athletes have a 3.0 grade-point average or better. She had a 3.9 GPA.

"Our coaches stress the importance of academics," Martin said. "They're telling us not only to be athletes, but to be student-athletes. They really key on how important it is to take your academics seriously, go to class and studying."

Martin said she'll focus on find ways to help herself and her teammates get better. She had season-highs of 32 points and 35 minutes against Walsh on March 1 in the GMAC Quarterfinals.

"Right now, I'm working on a lot of agility and just getting stronger, getting faster," Martin said. "That's what I work on every single day. The biggest thing that I'm keying on is probably creating more in our offense and being able to see the floor a lot better on offense and defense."

Nieman and her husband Caleb took over has co-head coaches of KWC in 2010. The Panthers made the NCAA Division II Tournament twice during that time in 2011 and 2013.

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