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Local girls find place on college court

Thomson and McDuffie County may be known more for exporting football prodigies, but a trio of local girls may soon change that. Briarwood's Anne Wills, and Thomson High School's Monique Martin and Terese Thornton are making an impact on the world of college basketball.

martin_troy.jpg

Monique Martin
Photo by Bradley Lambert
Anne Wills broke the record for the number of career points scored at Briarwood during her senior season last year. This year, as a college freshman, she is making noise at NCAA Division III Sewanee.

After being limited to a few minutes per game during the early part of the season, Wills caught on to the system and has seen her playing time increase to about 20 minutes. She has been a pleasant surprise for Coach Dickie McCarthy, and she has even started two games.

"Her minutes have increased because she has the ability to get the ball in the basket. My biggest concern with Anne coming out of high school was how she would adjust to the college game speed-wise, quickness-wise," Coach McCarthy said. "It took her a little while to make the adjustment. Passes that she would make in high school, she can't make in college. But she's so smart, and she's such an intelligent player that she's found a way to overcome that quickly and has adjusted very well to the college game."

34Tearese_Thornton.jpg

Terese Thornton
Photo by All-Pro Photography
For the 5-5 Wills, the adjustment from being the go-to scorer and playing the entire game to coming off the bench has been one that she expected but welcomed, as long as it would help add one in the win column for the 10-7 Tigers. She's averaging 5.2 points and 2 rebounds per game.

"Nobody knows anything about you, so it takes a while to earn respect," she said. "You have to work hard. You feel like when you were in high school everybody has been with you while you were growing up, and they've seen you play. So it takes a while to earn the respect of your teammates."

Despite the learning curve, Coach McCarthy knew he had to put Wills on the floor from the beginning of the season. He said she has brought a lot of energy to the team, even as a freshman.

"She was a scorer in high school, and so far she's been a scorer in college," Coach McCarthy said. "She's just the kind of kid that finds a way to get the ball in the basket. It doesn't always look pretty, and you wonder sometimes how she gets it up there and gets it off, but it finds the basket. It's kind of uncanny, actually."

A former Thomson star is also hitting the hardwood for a college team, and it marks her return to the game. Monique Martin averaged 34.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, five assists and five steals per game during the 2001-2002 season, her senior campaign at THS.

ANNE_WILLS.jpg

Anne Wills

After being named the AAAA State Player of the Year and signing with the University of Georgia, she took some time off from basketball and then from school. Martin made her return to the college court this season as a sophomore for Division I Middle Tennessee State.

The 5-11 Martin has started three games for the 11-7 Blue Raiders. She averages 5.3 points and 1.9 rebounds in 9.8 minutes per game. First-year coach Rick Insell said he was happy to have Martin on his team.

"We knew it was going to take some time for her to get back into the flow of things of running the floor and playing within a team concept, things like that," he said. "...She's just so strong. When she wants to go to the basket, I don't know of anyone in Division I that can stop her. She's that tough."

Martin was excited to play for the former championship high school coach who has a reputation for winning and helping his players improve.

"I knew if I came here, he could help me with my game a lot," she said, adding that the adjustment to playing tough defense has been a struggle. "...There's a lot more to the game than what I expected. It's a big change from high school to college."

Martin plans to take a shot at playing in the WNBA or overseas. But for now she is content with helping her team win.

"I just appreciate the opportunity that Coach Insell has given me, and I'm working hard to get better every day," she said.

Martin's former high school teammate Terese Thornton has played in 13 games for the 7-9 Howard University Lady Bison in Division I. The 6-0 sophomore is averaging 1.5 points and 1.5 rebounds in 7.3 minutes of action per game. She is also shooting 50 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the free throw line.

The Lady Bison were on the road with two away games last week, so Thornton and Coach Cathy Parson were unavailable for comment.



Web posted on Thursday, January 26, 2006











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