Basketball seniors look to leave SHSU with more than just diploma

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Michael Jordan once said talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.

Bearkat shooting guard Britni Martin accompanied by forward Sequeena Thomas blend their offensive instinct to pick apart zone defenses to lead Sam Houston State to their fourth consecutive conference tournament in March.

Powering through their last leg of conference play, Martin averages 16.4 points per game (ppg.) and 80 percent at the free-throw line. From the perimeter, Martin scopes defenses and find Thomas under the basket to power for 13.5 ppg.

Martin attributes teamwork with Thomas through reading where the forward expects her shot.

Ever since weve been playing together we just click, Martin said. I always know when she wants the ball and her go-to spots.

As the leading rebounder on the Bearkats squad, Thomas attacks the rim with strength to reestablish momentum finding Martin for fast breaks into the paint. Out running opponent defenses became SHSUs silent attack.

Weve always wanted to be somewhat of a running team because it sometimes takes us too long to set up in our plays, Martin said. Weve done a pretty good job pushing it up and getting it to one of the guards on the wing.

Martin and Thomass combined effort on the court sparked SHSU to climb Southland rankings.

SHSU experienced a six game winning streak in conference play to rise as the top seed in the Southland Conference until dropping three consecutive games to fall to second seed. After falling to Lamar, SHSU were blown out by Oral Roberts 90-40 and Central Arkansas 71-51.

I think we all as a team felt that one [against ORU] and it hurt us, Martin said. Even when we played our preseason games against Big XII teams, Big X teams, big opponents we never got blown out.

Martin and Thomas now narrow their focus to one game at a time and teamwork to regain their winning ways.

[Its] the same mentality weve tried to adapt this year. Just one game at a time, Thomas said.

Martin exploded against Stephen F. Austin to break SHSUs drought with 23 points, and secured a seed in the Southland Conference tournament in March. With regained momentum Martin and Thomas hope to reestablish, both hope to buy a spot in the NCAA Tournament to bring SHSU into the national spotlight.

In those games you got to have fun. Theyre obviously the favorite and were obviously the underdogs so we have nothing to lose so give them all they can take, Thomas said.

As two of the three seniors on the Bearkat squad, Martin and Thomas have prepared the upcoming classes with tough love.

At first its just work hard every day; it goes by way to fast, Martin said. Just trying to talk them through and trying to guide them because were not going to be here forever.

But before walking the stage at graduation, both look to bring home a championship banner and a ring, fulfilling their career at SHSU.

I want a ring on my finger. Im not talking about engagement. Im talking about a conference ring, Thomas said.

With four conference games remaining, Martin and Thomas narrow their scope into finishing strong, preparing for the conference tournament. SHSU will square off against teams faced previously this season.

Thomas claimed the key to clench a championship is to read her team and feed off positive momentum.

Just knowing my teammates, knowing when theyre going to shoot, just being smart about when the ball is coming off the rim, getting positioned [and] just having the desire to get the rebound is all it really takes, Thomas said.

As for advancing against the top seeds, itll come down to perseverance.

We know them. They know us. Its going to be about heart, Thomas said.

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