By Chris Parker
Marionville girls basketball returned to playing a varsity schedule last season after a one-year hiatus and went 6-18 overall. It was the first season for coach Paden Grubbs as the head coach of the Marionville girls program.
The return to varsity basketball for Marionville brought many lessons.
“I think the biggest learning curve is ‘the grind’ of the varsity season. We had six players and I think they figured out what they needed to work on to improve to help our program moving forward,” Grubbs said.
Now a group of five players return ready to lead Marionville girls basketball.
Senior Kelsie Grimm is the leading returning scorer after she averaged 9 points per game last year to go with 3 assists and 2.5 steals. She played point guard last year and will move to shooting guard this year.
“Kelsie has improved putting the ball on the floor to help make her a more complete player,” Grubbs said.
Alyssa White also returns at guard for her junior season.
“She has improved greatly as well. She has a great attitude and understand competing. She wants to win and is willing to put in the work to do what it takes to be successful,” Grubbs said.
Kaylee Neveln is going to be a key player in the paint after she averaged 6.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a junior.
“We need Nev to have a big year inside not only offensively but defensively. She is a great leader who the girls respect. We need her to continue to be a vocal leader and a big time rebounder,” Grubbs said.
Sophomore Bre Schapeler brings back great athleticism to the Lady Comets.
“Bre is a tremendous athlete. She has a lot of potential to take her game to the next level. We are trying to get her to play more aggressive offensively to be a threat,” Grubbs said. “(She is an) exceptional rebounder and our hardest worker in the weight room.”
Junior Isabelle Stephens also returns this year.
“Izzy will be asked to keep improving. She is a good athlete that hasn’t played a lot of basketball but is starting to figure it out. We need her to use her athletic ability on the defensive end and guard and rebound at a high level,” Grubbs said.
The freshman duo of Payden Blevins and Olivia Hopkins should have an immediate impact on the varsity lineup.
“Payden comes in as the starting point guard. Her attributes that she brings will help the rest of the team. She handles the ball at a high level and will be asked to do a lot of things not only on the offensive end but defensively as well,” Grubbs said. “Olivia comes in and will give us depth inside. I call her “The Project” because I see her as being very dominant down the road. She has good feet and when she figures out the game a little more, she is going to have a really good high school career as an inside scorer and rebounder.”
Marionville will be able to shoot the ball well, but will lack some size.
“I think this team’s biggest strength is going to be our ability to shoot the basketball. We have the ability to score some points this year, which we struggled to do at times last season. I think a lot of that will have to do with confidence and understanding the offensive philosophy a little better being year two of what we are trying to do,” Grubbs said. “We will have to rebound. We are not very big. We will have to make more of an effort of getting a body on a body when going to rebound. If we can guard (without fouling) and rebound I really feel like we can start taking steps in the right direction.”
Overall Grubbs has one big goal for his team this year: improvement.
“We won six games last year which is the most this senior group had won the previous two varsity years combined. We just want to go out, play hard, play the game the right way and give ourselves a chance every night,” Grubbs said.