It is a stretch to call a team with only one senior experienced, but Marion High School girls basketball coach Randy Savage isn’t going into this season with a bare cupboard, either.
The Lady Warriors ended last season with a 7-14 record but won six of their final 10 games. Freshmen contributed significantly to the late season improvement, and Savage expects to build on that experience.
“We’ve got three sophomores who played a lot of time — Katey Ehrlich, Megan Richmond, and Kaelyn Thierolf, and Kelli Hess came on at the end of the year,” Savage said.
“We’re probably in decent shape because we were so thin with upper classmen last year,” Savage said. “I look for us to be better than last year. I don’t know how that translates to wins, but by the end of the year I think we can be in position to win one or two in the postseason.”
The centerpiece of the Lady Warrior attack will be 6-foot-2-inch senior Whitney Gordon, who has committed to play NCAA Division I hoops for the University of Wyoming next year. Savage sees Gordon settling into the leadership role she took on last season, and plans to take advantage of the diverse options her height and skills provide.
“Whitney’s not going to Wyoming to play post,” Savage noted. “She always has preferred playing on the perimeter, but she’s not afraid to go inside.”
“She can handle the ball, shoot threes, post up — we’ll use her anywhere and everywhere,” Savage said.
Gordon is learning to balance the positive trait of being an unselfish player who spreads the ball around with the need Savage sees for this team for her to take charge and be a strong floor leader.
“Last year she was trying to adjust to a new role — when we needed to get points, we needed her to go get them, and she’s an unselfish player. This year in practice she’s going to the basket a lot harder,” Savage said.
Corey Shields, a junior, will give the Lady Warriors an additional inside presence, Savage said.
“Shields is 6 feet tall and strong, she’s very athletic, and as far as inside she can help us,” Savage said.
Savage will also depend on the contributions of another starter from last year, junior Erin Meierhoff, as he works with a team lean in height but strong in savvy.
“We’re not going to be very big, but fortunately we’ve got a bunch who like to hustle. We need to run, try to get some easy baskets whenever we can. We’ve tweaked how we run our break to make it faster,” Savage said.
“Our girls go to the basket hard — they’ll all go rebound, they’re not afraid to mix it up,” Savage said.
As Savage works to find the right sets and strategies to get the most out of this year’s team, one of his greatest assets is proving to be their ability to learn and adapt.
“They’re a smart group of kids,” Savage said, noting almost all his players have been on the academic honor roll. “You can throw things at them, you give them a day or two to run it, and they know where they’re supposed to go.”
The Lady Warriors will face some difficult competition early in the season, but Savage is eager for the challenge.
“I’m excited to play some games and see where we’re at,” he said.