Molly Schlemer was a bit raw as a basketball player when she arrived at Righetti High School in 2006. By the time she left Righetti in 2010, Schlemer was one of the best players in the area.
By the time of her senior year at Cal Poly, Schlemer was one of the top post players in the Big West Conference.
Schlemer was a three-time letterwinner at Righetti and twice earned All-League recognition, but she was just barely beginning to tap into her potential.
The 6-foot-5 post player averaged 15 points and 8.3 rebounds a game in her final season with the Warriors. She also blocked 2.5 shots a game then. In her junior season, Schlemer averaged about 12 points, 8 rebounds and a block a game.
At the end of her career at Cal Poly, Schlemer was putting up stronger numbers against Division I competition. She started all 32 games for the Mustangs as a senior during the 2013-14 season, averaging 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds a game, all in under 30 minutes a contest.
Jenkins was named the Times' All-Area MVP in 2017 and 2018, after her junior and senior years at Cabrillo High. Aly Beebe (2010 and '11) and Meghan Gnekow (2001 and '02) are the only other two players to do that this century. Both Beebe and Gnekow went on to sign with Pac-12 schools, Beebe joining Stanford and Gnekow playing for USC.
Schlemer is the second nominee for the Santa Maria Times' Player of the Decade award for girls basketball, joining the first, Erin Jenkins of Cabrillo High. The list of nominees is compiled by the sports staff at the Times, Lompoc Record and Santa Ynez Valley News, which is polling current and former coaches and researching individual and team accolades. Players in graduating classes from 2010-2020 are eligible.
Current Righetti coach Desiree Hitch played alongside Schlemer when Hitch was a senior and Schlemer a freshman at Righetti.
"Molly was not grown into her body her freshman year of high school and she was very new to the game," Hitch said. "She was way taller than everyone but still learning how to move. Molly’s attitude and determination is what made her into a phenomenal basketball player."
Schlemer had, perhaps, the best game of her Cal Poly career against UCLA in December of 2013, scoring 29 points and grabbing 16 rebounds as the Mustangs nearly upset the Bruins in a 96-89 loss. She was later named the Big West Player of the Week.
She earned conference Player of the Week honors again that year after averaging 28.5 points in road wins over UC Davis and UC Irvine in January of 2014. She had a 37-point game against UC Santa Barbara later that season.
The right-hander would go on to star in the youth baseball ranks and eventually at Santa Maria High School, where he graduated in 1973. Smith then pitched with the Hancock College Bulldogs before signing with the Baltimore Orioles in 1974.
Schlemer finished her career at Cal Poly as the fifth-leading scorer and rebounder in school history. After college, she signed with a a professional club in Germany and played overseas for several years.
She was twice named to the Big West All-Conference First Team.
"(Molly) worked her tail off at Cal Poly and they made her into a solid post player," Hitch said. "She might be the most fundamental and patient (with her post moves) of any player under the basket that I’ve ever seen play."
Hitch says Schlemer has continued to work with players, even coaching up the Righetti bigs.
Owens, now 29, has used her athletic background to move into the next phase of her life. She is a fitness athlete, trainer and business owner based in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Owens owns and operates Athlete Inner Fitness, working with clients who are intent in following intense workout regiments.
"She has come to help my posts at practice and I played in the city men’s league with her last year and I’m still in shock at how great of a basketball player she has come to be," Hitch said.