Marta Durk averaged right around 13 points for the O’Fallon varsity girls basketball team in her sophomore and junior seasons.
That figure can be tied directly to her team’s success. The Panthers averaged 14 wins per year and finished in the upper half of a tough Southwestern Conference.
Durk wanted more as she prepared last summer for her senior season.
“I am my own toughest critic. I always think I can do better than what I am,” Durk said. “I think a lot of that comes from my dad (Randy Durk). He was always my coach growing up through elementary school and he always pushed me twice as hard and made me work twice as hard as the others. It wasn’t easy, but that hard work has helped me get to where I am.”
Currently second in the SWC in scoring behind Granite City senior and University of Illinois recruit Addaya Moore, Durk is averaging 17.7 points per game for an O’Fallon team which was 16-8 and alone in second place. The team is 8-3 heading into its game at Bellevlle West on Thursday.
Durk is also one of the more efficient offensive players in the St. Louis area. For the season, she is making 58 percent of her shots (142-for-245), 48 percent (45-for-93) of her 3-point attempts and 85 percent (95-for-112) from the free throw line.
Paying the price
Durk, the youngest of four, played summer AAU basketball and spent most of her day working on her perimeter shot.
“I took probably 300 shots a day during the summer and worked on my defense. I really made that a priority to become a better better defensive player,” she said. “For me, when I play good defense, it carries over to the offensive end of the floor.”
Durk’s improved play on both ends of the floor has been a great boost to an O’Fallon team that lost senior center Celeste Akoro to a knee injury before the season. The 6-foot-3 Akoro has committed to play at NCAA Division I power Virginia Tech next year.
Now in her fourth year on the O’Fallon varsity roster, the 5-9 Durk has become a leader.
“Marta is one of these kids who just loves the game of basketball. It’s very, very important to her,” O’Fallon coach Ryan Massey said. “Because of that she’s very tough on herself. What she’s done each summer is find a couple of things in her game that she needs to work on, and then she spends the summer refining those skills. That’s a lesson for young players. You make yourself a better player in the offseason.
“Marta is seeing the rewards of that hard work. She’s improved her range tremendously over the summer. She’s always had a good mid-range game, and she has the ability to take the ball to the basket. When she does and gets fouled, you are talking about a player who shoots 85 percent from the foul line. She’s really turned herself into a complete player.”
Goals for the season
O’Fallon has played well recently in its effort to keep pace with conference-leading, undefeated Edwardsville. The Panthers have won eight of their last 11 games prior to taking on Belleville West. Durk has led the way, scoring 20 or more points in eight of those games.
“I think this is the best O’Fallon team that I have been on,” Durk said. “We all get a long and we share the basketball very well. It’s all about the team with us.
“Our goals are that we’d like to win a regional championship, and I think we can do that. That’s realistic. Plus we’d like to finish second in the conference.”
Like her mother and father — both of whom played college basketball — Durk will continue to the next level next season. Massey said he has had contact with several coaches.
Durk seems content to wait until after the season before making up her mind.
“I think she can play several places, and there is no doubt in my mind that Marta will be playing someplace nice next year,” Massey said. “One thing that impresses me is that she’s not in any hurry. She wants to find the right fit, and I think she will. After the season is overall, we’ll sit down and see what she wants to do.”