Mary Denman Luker was selected The Daily Home Player of the Week after leading the Pell City High School girls basketball team to a 2-0 record over the last seven days.
“I would like to thank my teammates for the success that we had this week and I would like to thank my coaches,” Luker said. “Without them, it would not have been possible. It is just fun playing with them, and I enjoy it. We have used that to our advantage and we have been pretty successful so far.”
Luker averaged 19 points in the two wins. In Pell City’s victory over Lincoln, the senior combo guard scored 22 points. Later in the week, she poured in 17 and made 11 steals in a win over Munford.
Luker said she wasn’t pleased with the way she performed last week, but she was elated the team had success.
“I thought that I could have done a little bit better, but we won, and that’s the main goal,” she said. “I always set certain goals to score and do the best that I can. I didn’t shoot really well last week, but this is a new week and, hopefully, it will go better for me.”
Last week’s games also gave Pell City an opportunity to run different plays, which will benefit the team later in the season.
“Overall, I think we learned and grew from it,” Luker said of the week. “We got to run a couple of things that we usually don’t.”
Pell City head coach Jennifer Lee has been pleased overall with Luker’s leadership and performance on the court. Lee acknowledged Luker didn’t shoot the ball well last week, but the coach believes the Lady Panthers’ standout will get her shot going this week.
“She has been great,” Lee said. “I think the young kids have been good for her. She has been a great leader and role model for them. They are helping to bring some excitement back to the game, because when you are at that age, everything is fun.
“Mary Denman is actually loosening up a lot (more) playing with the younger kids than she did when she was playing with older players, as crazy as that sounds.
“We have been fortunate to have big leads where she hasn’t played in the fourth quarter of the last two games. We could put her out there to pad her stats, but I have had that done to me and know how that feels.”
The Lady Panthers are off to a 4-1 start. Luker is one of two seniors on the team. The West Florida signee said one of her goals this season is to help her talented but young teammates develop and prepare to take over for the years to come.
“It is kind of different for me because I am playing with a young group,” Luker said. “They have taught me how to enjoy basketball again; they have taken the pressure off of me. They are really fun and energetic. I know I should be the leader, but I feed off their energy. I just want for them to grow and for us to have a winning season, and if we can for us to make it to the playoffs.”
Luker said she admires the game of four-time WNBA champion Maya Moore.
“I like that she can shoot the 3 really well and take it to the hole,” Luker said. “She is an all-around good player and scorer.”