Martin Luther junior Amber Schulz is willing to do whatever it takes to help the Knights' girls basketball team win.
Whether it's pulling down rebounds or leading her team in scoring, Schulz has been the driving force behind the Knights' 4-4 overall record and 3-2 Valley Conference record so far this season.
"She has been our leading scorer in almost every game," Martin Luther head coach Leslie Wokasch said. "She goes hard for the ball and she gives you 100 percent effort every game. She is a leader for us."
BASELINE SAVE — Martin Luther power forward Amber Schulz (40) saves the basketball from going out-of-bounds near the baseline during regular-season action in Northrop. Knights teammate Kristi Oberdieck (34) looks on. Schulz has evolved into a driving force behind Martin Luther’s success this season. Photo by Leanna Becker
Schulz's 14.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per game through eight games helped the Knights to a four-game winning streak after opening the season with a loss to Sleepy Eye St. Mary's.
Schulz pulled down a season-high 16 rebounds in the Knights' 67-50 Valley Conference victory over the Truman Bluejays on Nov. 29, before contributing a season-best points performance with 28 in a 67-52 conference victory over Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial a week later.
"I think we've grown together so much this year as a team. We all have our skills and things that each of us bring into the game, but together it works," said Schulz. "We really came together in a close game win over Southwest Star Concept and St. Clair, who is our biggest rival. We worked together and played hard in those games, winning like that is a great feeling."
Opponents have started to key on the Knights' shining star, but the defensive pressure doesn't compare to the standards Schultz has set for herself.
"With her playing well this year, teams have started keying in on her on defense. And that has actually helped her teammates on the outside get open shots," said Wokasch. "I don't think she notices the difference when she's on offense though. When she catches the ball, she finds the hoop and is going to find a way to get the basket."
The junior has been able to find the basket for 117 points, shooting 48.8 percent from the floor, while making 63.5 percent of her free throws.
"This year the goal I have for myself is trying to get as many double-doubles as I can," said Schulz.
Through the first eight games of the Knights' season, Schulz has tallied three double-double performances.
The excitement and success for Schulz on the basketball court was not always as present as it is now. After years of work, she is reaping the benefits.
"I wasn't really interested in basketball in sixth and seventh grade. I thought about quitting and almost did, but then I just started loving it," said Schulz. "Before games I'd get really nervous, but I loved the feeling when I was playing and I kept wanting to feel that, so I kept playing."
Most of Schulz's teammates are the same ones she played with when she made that decision five or six years ago, and that makes this year even more special, no matter what the outcome.
"Coach (Wokasch) is always telling us to play hard, have fun and play with your heart. I think if you do that then a lot of times you can win the game," said Schulz.
So far this season, Schulz's efforts have helped the Knights stay in the hunt for a conference championship.
"This year, Amber has really asked a lot of questions about strategy and understanding those types of things and has worked really hard every day to get better. She wants to do whatever she needs to in order to help the team," said Wokasch.
"I just love my teammates. I love playing with them and working for the win," said Schulz. "I wouldn't be anywhere without them. And our coaches do a great job, they help me get better and build my confidence. Both my teammates and my coaches have helped make me the player I am."