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GIRLS' PREP BASKETBALL: Hammond accepting difficult role (01/23)

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By Greg Crews

 

By GREG CREWS gcrews@thenewsenterprise.com RADCLIFF — Emily Hammond, to some extent, is the steward of the John Hardin girls’ basketball program. For most players, it is a role that is hard to come to terms with. Hammond, however, has accepted it, despite being the Lady Bulldogs’ only senior. “I’m really just trying to make the team better for next year,” said Hammond, a 5-foot-3 shooting guard. “Of course this year, winning is our main priority, but I am just trying to help them rebuild because I know they are going to be really good in a couple of years. So, I’m just trying to help them prepare for that.” It is an obvious rebuilding year for John Hardin, which stands at 2-12 after notching winning records in three of the past four seasons. It’s something no player wants in her senior year, but Hammond has shed those emotions, choosing to focus on the team rather than herself. “It is really hard, because when you continuously lose, I’m upset because I’ll never have another chance to play these teams,” she said. “It’s hard sometimes, but I try to keep my spirits up because when I get down they all get down.” But don’t let Hammond fool you. Her role on the court isn’t strictly emotional. Through 14 games this season, Hammond is averaging a team-high 10.1 points per game and has connected on more 3-pointers than the rest of her team combined (29). “I gave her the green light to shoot the ball and she still has the green light to shoot the ball,” John Hardin coach Bryan Todd said. “She’s as good of a 3-point shooter as I’ve ever seen. Her stats don’t really bare that out, but she is a very capable 3-point shooter.” Hammond is hitting 20 percent of her attempts from behind the arc this season (29-of-142), but she and Todd both believe that number will go up. “I’m trying to get inside more and take shots other than just 3-pointers,” Hammond said. “I decided that I needed to start doing that so I can score more and help the team out more. … And if I get inside more, that should give me more open shots outside.”  Hammond, whose father coaches at Radcliff Middle School, was one of only two players with any varsity experience coming into the season. As a result, she knew she would have to step up and be a leader. “I try to be vocal. I try to remind everyone where they are supposed to be on the court,” said Hammond, who also tries to keep the team level. “I make sure everyone stays positive and doesn’t get too down when we lose.” Hammond has started all but two games this season and is one of only six players to have seen action in every game. Todd said even in the two games she didn’t start, she still was one of the biggest impact players. “We have shifted the lineup a lot this year as you are likely to do when you are 2-12, and both times she didn’t start she came in with an excellent attitude and gave us a spark off the bench,” he said. “As a senior, it’s got to be hard when she is out of the lineup, but she takes it really well even the day before the game, when I let her know.” That’s because Hammond knows it isn’t about her, and it’s not really even about this season. And that’s something she is okay with. Greg Crews can be reached at 505-1754