Few people in the Laguna Beach High gym Jan. 26 probably believed what they were seeing.
That’s OK. Emily Writer didn’t really believe it, either.
“I don’t even know I’m scoring that much until after the game,” Writer said. “I don’t even realize what I’m doing until after the fact. I just try to play hard.”
For Writer on that night, “play hard” was more than just some cliché. It meant she put 53 points up on the board in a loss to Costa Mesa, breaking her own single-game record at the school set Jan. 22, 2009, when she scored 51 against the Mustangs.
“I thought I was never going to break that 51 record,” Writer said. “I didn’t believe my dad [Jerry] when he told me I got 53 points. Then I looked in the score book and it was 53. I was happy. I was sad that we lost that game, though.”
Yet, Coach Jon Hendrickson and Writer’s teammates might have been the least surprised. They have seen the intensity with which Writer, a three-year starter, plays with every night. The number speak for themselves.
Entering Thursday’s game against Estancia, the 5-foot-10 Writer is averaging 21.6 points per game. And, while the Breakers (5-17, 1-5 in league) appear like they’ll miss the CIF playoffs for the second straight year, Writer will be part of a formidable returning core next year.
This year’s team has only one senior starter, Grace Komoroczy, who is a first-year player. Other returning starters next year should include current junior center Sam Garner, as well as sophomore forward Holly Battle and freshman guard Lola Cowie.
Writer’s impact though goes beyond just the points. Komoroczy had never played competitive basketball until this year, yet she said she, like her teammates, have received encouragement from the competitive Writer.
“We’ve definitely become more aggressive as a team,” Komoroczy said. “Sometimes they’ll try to shut her down, so she’s got to trust us, too. I think trust has gone a long way; we’ve definitely built up trust.”
At first, Writer’s competitive edge could have been a turn-off. Sometimes, it means to criticize, which wasn’t always taken the best way by her teammates.
“Now, they’re starting to understand,” said Hendrickson, in his third year.
But even stars can be inconsistent. On Jan. 28 at Calvary Chapel, Writer failed to score and fouled out midway through the third quarter of a 49-39 loss. Yet earlier this week, she showed maturity, reflecting on what she might have done differently in that game.
“This whole weekend, I’ve been shooting constantly,” Writer said. “Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I just think I should have tried to drive more to the basket to get fouled, just to get my form back up. And I was shooting more toward the side, when I should have been toward the middle. There’s a better chance of the backboard hitting it.”
Jerry Writer played basketball at Artesia High and later at Cerritos College, and Emily has been playing since she was very young. Her eighth-grade year, she said she was part of a very successful club team, OC Adrenaline. She is now as a member of SoCal Swoosh.
Still, her high school experience hasn’t always been so successful.
“It does frustrate me, but if myself and my team can come out of the game saying we played our best, then I’m still happy with that,” she said. “That’s something I had to learn, because coming from my old club team, we used to win all the time.”
Writer has steadily built up her game at the high school. She scored just over eight points per game as a freshman, the team’s third-leading scorer behind then-seniors Emily Larose and Tess Grogan. Writer then jumped to 22 last year, a number she’s stayed close to this year.
The number she’d like more of though is in the wins column. They might come easier next year. Garner and Writer have been playing together for a long time, and both will be seniors next year. Garner, second on the team in scoring at eight points per game, is a force inside.
Until then, Writer remains a threat to drop 50 points at any moment. Hendrickson said she is on pace to break the school career scoring record of Liz Stahl, who formerly owned the single-game record when she scored 36 in 1989. Stahl went on to play at Colgate. Writer hopes to earn a college scholarship, as well.
“She just kind of solidifies everything,” Hendrickson said. “She tries to get her teammates involved, but obviously she’s got a reputation of being our main scorer. She’s just done a really good job.”