Four years ago, Kayla Goins and Lindsay Martin were leading Carroll County to an appearance in the Group AA State Tournament. Reunited at Ferrum College, the former Cavalier standouts are now leading the Panthers to new heights.
After an incredible 26-2 season that included USA South Conference regular season and tournament championships, Ferrum now has earned the chance to host an NCAA Division III Women’s Tournament regional beginning March 7. The Panthers will be in action at home that day against Capital University. With a win, Ferrum would also host the winner of the Eastern Mennonite-Christopher Newport contest
“We’re excited. It’s big for our program. We had special years the last two seasons, made it to the tournament and had to travel,” Ferrum head coach Bryan Harvey said. “This year, to have the tournament we had and to be able to host a regional at home, it is big for our program. We’re excited about the opportunity.”
A big part of that success is Goins, a senior who has helped the program grow by leaps and bounds over the past four seasons. A two-time USA South Rookie of the Week in 2011, the former Carroll standout led the team in 3-pointers made this season with 39 and finished second on the squad in assists with 3.1 per contest. She also averages 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while coming off the bench as the team’s sixth man.
She is shooting 32.8 percent from 3-point range (39-of-119) and 81.5 percent from the free throw line. Averaging 22 minutes per game as a point guard, Goins brings much more to the team than just a versatile player, Harvey said.
“Kayla has been a great player for us for four years. She came in and started right away as a freshman. I think our program was starting to turn in the right direction when she got here and Kayla and the other three seniors have taken it to the next level,” Harvey said. “She has an unbelievable basketball IQ and a second-to-none work ethic. She expects perfection, which you can’t ask for anything less than that. I talked to her on Senior Night about very rarely do you coach a kid who shows up every day and gives their very best every day. There’s not a day I have felt like we haven’t gotten her best.”
A two-time member of the USA South Academic All-Conference team, Goins has made the Dean’s List at Ferrum every semester she’s been there. And while she’s been a part of three USA South regular season championship teams and two tournament title squads, this will be the first time Ferrum has hosted an NCAA Tournament regional during her playing days.
“It is extremely exciting because it’s close to home, everyone can come, and we can get a big crowd, which means the world to a team,” Goins said. “Plus we get to play on our home court one more time, which means a lot to me being a senior.”
Ferrum enters the NCAA Division III Women’s Tournament on a six-game winning streak. The Panthers went 17-2 in the USA South in the regular season and 26-2 overall. A big part of the team’s success has been its incredible depth. No player averages more than 13 points a game, while at least nine players average four points per game. Goins said Ferrum has typically been able to use that depth to wear opponents down in 2013-14.
“We can go into any game and we can go five in and five out. It wears teams down and that is our biggest strength,” Goins said. “If one person isn’t having their best night, you have one on the bench that can come in and do their best. That is our biggest strength that it can be anybody on any night.”
Of course, coming off the bench is a big difference for Goins, especially after starting almost immediately as a freshman. But it’s a transition she’s happy to take on to make the team that much stronger.
“Of course you want to strive for that starting position, but I am completely okay with anything that gets my team to the next level because I just want to keep playing,” Goins said. “I’m just excited to see what this tournament holds. I feel like we have as good a shot as anyone because we are playing the best basketball we have all year.”
A Health and Human Performance Major with an emphasis in P.E., Goins wants to be a P.E. teacher and coach when she graduates, hopefully at Carroll County.
A 2012 graduate of CCHS, Martin originally signed with Division II Catawba College out of high school. She decided she wanted to be closer to home, however, and decided to transfer to Ferrum.
“We recruited her heavy out of high school and wish we could have gotten her here last year. She went to Catawba for a year and we were fortunate she wanted to come back closer to home,” Harvey said. “I think the fact we recruited her hard, she knew how much we wanted her. We had a veteran group coming back this year and Lindsay has been a perfect fit for us. She’s come in and done everything we’ve asked her to do. She probably deserves more minutes than she’s gotten to this point but she’s playing great basketball right now.”
Harvey said Martin has a great future ahead of her at Ferrum, but for now he’s pleased with her contributions off the bench. For the season, Martin is averaging 4.5 points and 1.4 rebounds per game while averaging 12.1 minutes per contest. She’s shooting 27 percent from 3-point range (17-of-63) and 81 percent from the charity stripe (34 of 42).
“What she has done this year has been amazing,” Harvey said. “We have a group that comes off the bench and gives us an awful lot. You have to have that kind of depth this time of the year.”
Martin said she liked Catawba, but felt like it wasn’t the right fit. She said she absolutely loves Ferrum.
“I love the school. The basketball program is awesome and Coach Harvey is awesome,” Martin said. “He’s always there when we need him. He’s not just our basketball coach.”
Martin was just a sophomore at CCHS when Goins graduated. She said she never would have imagined they’d be teammates again. But now, Martin said you’d never know they hadn’t played with each other in four years.
“When we are playing together we read each other really well. Some of the passes she makes, I ask her, how did you know I would be there? I think the chemistry from high school carries over,” Martin said. “She has been able to make some big plays for us with her passing.”
Aside from her passing abilities, Martin said Goins also assists the team in other ways, particularly with her attitude and energy.
“She is always positive, never negative. If you are down, she is always there to bring you back up and get your confidence back up. She’s always on the bench cheering for other people,” Martin said. “If you need help, she will always offer to help. She is just that team player and leader you need on the team that is always there for you and looking to keep you up and ready to go.”