In elite company
The names on the list are a who’s who of Indiana high school girls basketball.
It includes Skylar Diggins, Jackie Young, Jennifer Jacoby, Whitney Jennings and Kelly Faris to name a few.
Down at No. 16 is Marquette Catholic senior point guard Emmory Joseph, whose 466 career assists rank her in that elite company.
“It’s pretty shocking,” Joseph said. “My sophomore year, I really realized, wow! It’s really a big honor to be mentioned with those kind of players. Before high school, no one ever kept (assists) stats. I just knew it was my role to pass the ball.”
No one knows or appreciates that anymore than those of kindred spirit, like the 5-foot-3 Joseph’s coach Katie Collignon, a point guard in her day.
“I think we share the same story,” Collignon said. “I’ve always been small. I’m very competitive. We’re similar in that we’re both almost perfectionists. She could have nine assists and one turnover and she’s going to harp on the turnover. That’s the type of kid she is. She’s tough-nosed. We can relate. I can say, this is what I would do.”
Joseph greatly appreciates the unique relationship she and Collignon share.
“I love the dynamic we have,” she said. “I understand the importance of having that extension of the coach on the floor. It’s something I take extremely seriously. We have our own communication. We understand each other really well. She pushes me to be a better player, a better leader on and off the court. It’s a role she did so well herself.”
The first time the two ever spoke as player and coach Collignon made one point perfectly clear to Joseph.
“I told her if anything goes wrong, I’m not going to yell at them, I’m going to yell at you,” she said. “Coaches say they want a point guard to be an extension of them on the floor and she’s the epitome of that. She has remarkable vision. She’s able to see things before they happen, know where her teammates are, where they’re going to be. I put a lot of pressure on her and she’s embraced that. She took it to heart and has done a great job of leading the girls that way.”
Collignon readily admits there is one marked difference between the two.
“I wear my emotions on my sleeve where she’s able to keep her composure,” she said. “That’s very good from a point guard’s perspective. She runs the show. Everyone on the floor is very comfortable when the ball’s in her hand. You can almost hear a sense of relief. There’s no panic. She’s able to have that composure and keep the entire team composed in big situations.”
The even-keel demeanor comes naturally to Joseph.
“I’ve always tried to pride myself on being calm and collected in those situations,” she said. “It sets the tone for the rest of the team. We have a lot of players who have been in a lot of pressure situations, and we excel in those. I like the challenge. Any adversity we face, we just have to stay focused and get the job done.”
While Joseph continues to climb the statistical ladder in assists, Collignon has pressed her to expand her game. Joseph averaged just over a basket a game as a junior and Collignon wants to her to be more of a scoring presence.
“She’s definitely become more of an offensive threat. She’s looking for opportunities to score,” Collignon said. “The first few years of high school, she was pass only. She understood she had great players to pass it to, so why take a shot? Even this summer, I’ve seen her grow a lot. She put a lot of shots up. Her shot looks really good. That will help with her confidence level. We put some pressure on her, we need you to score. If she scores, it opens up the floor even more. It gives us an even more balanced attack than we already have. I hardly ever say, bad shot, Emmery. She understands shot selection. If she makes big shots, it lifts the entire team. I’m excited to see.”
It’ll be an adjustment for Joseph, but one she’ll gladly take.
“I’ve worked a lot on my finishing moves, being a threat on the scoring end,” she said. “We’re going to play a lot of teams who are tough, physical, active. If I do it in a game, it’ll open a lot of opportunities for my teammates. I’ll take whatever the defense gives me. If teams are in a zone, I’ll knock down an outside shot when I’m wide open, or I can just be aggressive, take it in the paint, penetrate, finish at the rim or dish the ball to my teammates.”
A 4.3 student, Joseph has picked up interest from NAIA Baker University in Kansas and NCAA Division III North Central College in Illinois. She plans to go into sports management with aspirations to follow in her coach’s footsteps and be an athletic administrator.
Before all that, Joseph aims to steer the Blazers in another state title run.
“Everybody’s very excited, very hyped,” she said. “It’s definitely our goal to get back to Bankers Life (Fieldhouse). It’s on everybody’s minds. We’re going to be really focused every single game to put what we did in practice to work. It’s coach K’s third season, we’re a predominantly senior-led team, we’re confident in each other, inside and outside, to do what we need to do.”