No one player makes or breaks a team, but it was obvious the St. Joseph girls basketball team missed not having their best player on the court.
Kensey Marshall, a sophomore at St. Joseph, received her third foul in the team's semifinal game against Ganado at the Lady Flyer Holiday Classic midway through the second quarter.
The Lady Flyers led 18-14 and Marshall had accounted for seven of her team's points.
By halftime, St. Joseph had managed to score just three more points while giving up 11 to Ganado.
"There are a lot of times when we're down and we need a spark," St. Joseph head coach Carrie Myers said.
Marshall has always been one of the best players on her basketball team.
As a sixth grader, she was good enough to play on the A-team at Nazareth Academy where she was coached by her grandfather, Dennis Leita.
"That was a lot of fun," Leita said on coaching his granddaughter. "She listened. I treated them all equally and she had to fight for what she got. But she was the best one out there and they wouldn't let me bring her up as a fifth grader."
"It was a good experience, especially when we went all the way to the end and finished off the season very well," Marshall said.
Her eighth-grade team won its zone championship and competed for the district championship. Individually, Marshall scored more points than all of Nazareth's opponents combined. It was during those three years that Marshall showed her basketball talents in public.
In private, her family already knew she was going to be a great basketball player.
"I noticed right away she had the athletic ability," Leita said. "She was like me coming up through school. She was fast, really fast. I hope I taught her something."
Leita was a former basketball player at Victoria High, graduating in 1964 and began teaching Marshall the sport of basketball.
"Everything I knew about the sport came form him,' Marshall said.
Marshall and Leita first began playing Horse at home. Marshall didn't win at first, but as she got older and better, she did. From there, Leita helped build Marshall's skill set into the all-around player she is today.
"He's meant a lot to me in my life," Marshall said of her grandfather. "He taught me everything about the sport of basketball."
As a freshman last season, Marshall was named the TAPPS District 4-5A newcomer of the year and was also named first-team all-district.
During the 2011-2012 season, Marshall played in 34 games, scoring 331 points, 83 rebounds, 70 assists and 66 steals.
This year, Marshall is doing just as well, if not better. Through the first 14 games of the season, Marshall has averaged 16.3 points per game, twice breaking the 20-point mark. She's also made 47 three-point shots, including six in one game.
"Kensey plays point guard and shooting guard. She's a leader for us on the floor," Myers said. "She keeps us calm when we're playing and makes good decisions on when to drive the lame and when to not to. She's very valuable to this team."
In the final minutes of Friday night's game against Ganado, Marshall didn't take the final shot. She did make a perfect pass to senior Chloe Shoemake along the baseline who then put St. Joseph up 48-46.
Earlier in the quarter, Marshall put the Flyers back in position to take the win when, following a missed free throw, she stole the ball and scored the easy layup.
"She works really hard on her defense and has gotten better," Myers said. "She has quick hands and quick feet. Her defense forces other teams to make turnovers, which leads to offense for us."
Marshall did several things on Friday night to show she's an all-around basketball player, but for one person who has known Marshall through her whole career, only one play stands out amongst the rest.
"One time she made a 360-layup," Leita recalled. "She ran into the person guarding her on a layup and, I don't know how she did it, but she went up and did a full 360-degree turn in the air and made the layup. I don't how it was possible, the way she did it. But she did it."
St. Joseph 56,
Sophomore Kensey Marshall made a perfect pass to Chloe Shoemake along the baseline and took the lead for the Lady Flyers late in the fourth quarter. But Ganado's Ashley Bridges made a three-pointer in the final seconds to send the semifinal game into overtime.
St. Joseph jumped out to a four-point lead in overtime and eventually held on for the 56-51 victory.
Marshall led the Lady Flyers with 18 points and Shoemake had 12, including a pair of three's.
Yoakum exploded for a 23-15 lead at halftime, but Goliad stormed back in the second half to advance to the championship game Saturday with a 46-37 comeback victory.
Avery Zamzow had a game-high 18 points and Emily Perez wasn't far behind with 16.
After scoring just five points in the second quarter, Goliad posted totals of 16 and 15 in the final two quarters, while holding Yoakum to just seven in both quarters.
Faith shut down Cuero in the opening quarter, allowing just five points which proved to be useful as Cuero came up just four points short of the comeback, losing 45-41.
Sarah Alex led the Lady Cougars with 13 points and Courtney Grevey had 10.
Calhoun found its offensive groove early and never lost it as the Sandies cruised to a 23-point victory over Flatonia Saturday.
McKenna Villegas exploded for 16 points for Calhoun and helped spark the Sandies offense with seven points in the first quarter. Flatonia started slowly with 12 points in the first half.
Abigail Schacherl led Flatonia in scoring with 10 points. Jordan Edison contributed eight points to Calhoun's total.