The GRIND: Caroline Martin, North Forsyth High School Basketball
Entering last season, the North Forsyth girls basketball team was motivated by disappointment, mainly that of its one-point region championship game loss to Lambert. But a year later, it’s one of the prior season’s successes that the Raiders remember the most: the tense state quarterfinal win over Hillgrove in a rowdy home gym.
Graduated senior Catherine Shope sticks out the most on the stat sheet from that game, with 31 points, but then-sophomore Caroline Martin was just as crucial to the Raiders’ victory, dropping 21 points and consistently finding a hot-handed Shope for shots.
“That was the best game ever,” Martin said.
That performance might have been Martin’s most memorable from last season, but it wasn’t entirely an outlier, either. She could distribute, slash and hit crucial jumpers for the Raiders, and Martin was the only non-senior to make an All-FCN team, finding a spot on the first team by averaging 11.5 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
In Martin’s junior season, the Raiders are hoping to get even more out of her. She’ll still play a combo guard role, but head coach Eric Herrick anticipates using Martin more at the point. She’ll have a score-first counterpart like Shope in Ansley Allen, but Martin will still be expected to pour it in herself. And on a team that stands even shorter than last year’s verticality-light group, Martin’s role and contributions will be more important than ever.
Martin’s speed and driving ability have made her stand out since her freshman year at North, and she’s developed a strong knack for hitting what look like circus shots on drives.
“Sometimes I’m like, ‘How does that go in?’” Allen said.
Martin had struggled in the past with staying under control and not going too fast for her own good, and she started to do that more consistently midway through last season. After the success of the postseason, Martin upped her offseason ambitions, joining the Nike Elite program.
But she also missed significant time with a back injury, so much of the preseason has been about getting back into shape.
“I think her best basketball is ahead of her, as far as her maturation and growing as a player,” Raiders head coach Eric Herrick said.
Martin has a certain leadership role on the team: She isn’t the most vocal member of the Raiders, and she maintains a largely stoic look during games. Part of that is a conscious decision on her part, so that mistakes or bad runs don’t “snowball,” but it’s also just part of her personality. Herrick said that Allen and fellow junior Vekondja Ogbogu are more apt to get loud when necessary.
Spectators can’t miss Martin’s athleticism and diverse offensive skills, though, and her teammates don’t have any issue looking to her for pointers, even if it isn’t Martin’s voice drawing them.
“She isn’t always the loudest, but she’s always one that you can look at and try to mimic that effort,” Allen said of Martin. “Then the freshmen see that and kind of take the lead from what she does in practice … They came to all of our games last year and watched her play very hard, so I think they’re trying to live up to that.”