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by Mark Cheffey
The Marion County R-II girls basketball team will hope to build on the success of last year’s season but will be doing so with virtually a new cast.
“We are almost a totally different team than a year ago,” said Coach Reed Plunkett, who has three returning players from last year’s 21-6 squad that reached the Class 1 quarterfinals along with five freshmen in a 10-player roster.
“We are a young group, but so far, we have come to practice with great effort and attitude,” Reed said. “It is a goal of the team to improve a lot throughout the season. It is our goal to be hard to beat in February.
“I am looking forward to the amount of growth this season will bring.”
The team also hopes to take advantage of an inside track to the basket as well.
“Our style will look different given the amount of post players on the roster,” Reed said. “We are going to focus on ball movement and entering the ball in the post when we can.”
Returning are senior, Tristen Holt, junior, Shayleigh Whetstone, and sophomores, Riley Holt, Grace Jensen-Page and Sam Kindhart.
They are joined by freshman, Kennedy Hathaway, Ayla Pollard, Maya Bock, Alyssa Lee and Kalin Dowell.
Reed said he will be leaning on Tristen Holt to help guide the young team this season.
“She averaged 27 minutes per game a year ago and was a key contributor to our elite 8 run,” Reed said. “She is an excellent defender and has improved on her ability to shoot the ball.
“We are looking for her to lead and set the tone for us as our lone senior this year.”
While she has little varsity floor experience, Whetstone has improved much over the off-season in preparation for a larger role.
“She is a good leader by example who knows the program expectations and is willing to do all that is asked of her,” Reed said.
Riley Holt also saw only a few minutes off the bench last season, but Reed said he will lean on her to be the team’s point guard.
“She has improved her ability to shoot it,” he said.
Reed also had good things to say about his freshmen.
“Sam Kindhart is a good rebounder who plays hard and communicates well on the floor,” he said.
He said he is also hopeful Hathaway will be able to utilize her ability to score.
“She moves well,” Reed said. “We will look for her to make up for some of the scoring that we graduated last year.”
Reed indicated Pollard is a good post player who plays with good balance and has a knack of finishing well around the basket.
“Like Hathaway, we will look for her to help make up for the scoring that we graduated last year,” he said.
Rounding out the roster is Jensen-Page, a 6-1 post player who battled injury last year.
“We will look to utilize her size,” he said.
Districts were released Friday, and the Lady Mustangs were placed in Class 1, District 11 along with Atlanta, Bevier, Brashea, La Plata, North Shelby, and Novinger.
The Lady Mustangs were to open their season at Paris this past Friday. Results of the game were unavailable for this issue.
11/18 at Paris
11/22 at North Shelby
12/5-10 Monroe City Tourn.
12/15 Green City
12/16 at Scotland County
12/19 at LaPlata
1/6 at Novinger
1/10 at Macon County
1/12 at Madison
1/27 Mark Twain
1/30 at Knox County