Despite the loss of Shalom Christian's top scorer, Tori Yoder, to graduation, the Flames entered this season confident thanks to one player's dedication in the offseason to fill a large void.
Sophomore Brooke Emge ensured that her presence on the court would be felt this year, and is aiding Shalom in another season atop the Mason-Dixon Christian Conference.
She is the Public Opinion Female Athlete of the Week.
Emge attended a four-day UNC basketball camp this summer to improve her game, citing those four days as a major confidence boost on the court. She also joined the cross country team in the fall to build the endurance required in the Flames' speedy offense.
Shalom boasts a fast-break system, with a majority of its points coming off steals and breakaways, so when Emge joined cross country, the residual benefits to basketball were clear.
"She's an energizer bunny," Shalom coach Brad Eby said. "She will not give up, and she worked hard in the offseason, joining cross country to build endurance for basketball, and she's more confident in understanding the offense."
Her confidence was a key last week as she aided Shalom in two important MDCC wins against Heritage and Shenandoah Valley, in which she had a career performance.
Emge scored career-high 20 points over Shenandoah Valley, and had six steals and four assists in the process.
"A lot of my success came from my teammates," Emge said. "We started strong defensively, which is really important because we have an aggressive offense, and most of our team's points come from how we play on defense."
She also added 16 points and six assists against Heritage.
Shalom remains undefeated in conference play, and 9-1 overall, with hopes to end the season with an MDCC Championship for the third consecutive year.
"She was able to finish at the basket (last week), and she had a lot of breakaway layups," Eby said. "She was hustling to get the ball, and turning defense into offense. That's her game and that's what she does well. She has the confidence to finish at the basket and she's not afraid to shoot - it's more natural now."
That natural instinct came from her time at the UNC basketball camp, where she learned to become a "smart player," and with the added benefit of already being in shape for the season, thanks to cross country, Emge said she was able to focus more time on really getting to know the offense, and playing more smart, confident basketball.
Brooke Emge, Shalom Christian
Parents: Ron and Jen Emge
Other interests: She also plays soccer and runs cross country.
Surprising fact: She wants to go to school to become a doctor, either a pediatrician or an anesthesiologist.
Favorite athlete: Brazilian soccer player Neymar.
Three people most want to have dinner with: Neymar, Luke Bryan and Jennifer Lawrence.
Statistics: Emge scored a career-high 20 points in Shalom's win over Shenandoah Valley, adding six steals and four assists ... She also had 16 points, three steals and six assists against Heritage.