For the third year in a row, the Labette Cardinals women’s basketball program will send a player to the annual NJCAA All-Star Game as Jessica Martino was selected to participate this summer.
Martino was the only freshman in the Kansas Jayhawk Conference to earn First Team All-KJCCC honors and was also the lone first-year player to be selected to the NJCAA Region VI First Team.
“She just played harder than most people,” Labette head coach Mitch Rolls said. “She was undersized for the post but was still top five in the KJCCC in rebounding. That shows the type of motor she has and how hard she’ll play.”
Martino was second on the Cardinals’ roster in scoring at 11 points per game. She led Labette in rebounding with seven boards per game, including 3.3 offensive rebounds.
“She’s one of those post players that can take you outside then beat you to the rim. She’ll get a few put-backs when she pulls down those offensive rebounds. She plays a lot faster than most and is a great athlete that competes at a really high level,” Rolls said.
Martino is expected to return to the Labette roster as a sophomore for the 2019-20 season.
“She’ll be a cornerstone for us next year,” Rolls said. “That type of rebounding, you can’t replace. We want to develop her game a little bit as she matures as a sophomore. She’s sticking around this summer to take classes and work out. So we expect a big jump from her.”
The 2019 NJCAA All-Star Game festivities will be held in Atlanta from July 19-22. Previously, the Cardinals saw DeAshia Young and Upe Atosu compete in the game the last two years, respectively.
“It shows that we’re getting quality kids in here as freshmen. That translates into getting kids to the four-year level when they take care of their academics,” Rolls said.
Rolls said that this summer’s expedition to Atlanta will be a good opportunity for Martino to shine on a national stage in front of college recruiters.
“An All-Star game will be good for her,” Rolls said. “The way Jessica plays with high energy, she’ll really standout. She has a good opportunity to have a good showing.”
Martino is currently garnering Div. I interest as she heads into her second year at Labette.
“She’s already got a couple of NCAA Division I offers,” Rolls said. “At least they’ve said they are going to offer her. She’ll compete at that level as long as she takes care of the classroom.”
Labette finished the 2018-19 season, Martino’s freshman year, with a 21-11 overall record and made it to the semifinals of the NJCAA Region VI Tournament. The Cardinals also finished the year ranked No. 9 in the final NJCAA rankings.