By Chris Parker
Marionville girls basketball didn’t field a varsity team in 2017-18. The following year, head coach Paden Grubbs went 6-18 in his first season. Last year, that win total doubled to a 12-12 record. Grubbs hopes to see that improvement continue.
“We want to continue to make progress. My first year, we were 6-18. Last year (my second year) we finished 12-12. So, a big goal of ours this season is to be a winner; finish the season with a winning record. That would be a big step for our program. To do that we have to continue to focus on the little things and details every day,” Grubbs said.
He has a good starting point in working toward that goal returning in sophomore point guard Payden Blevins. Blevins earned second-team all-conference honors as a freshman on the strength of her 15.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.6 steals per game.
“Payden is a good athlete. She has good length and speed, (and a) very high basketball IQ. Along with all these traits she is very competitive; she hates losing. She is a good basketball player,” Grubbs said. “Her best asset is getting her teammates involved. She’s a very good ball handler and sees the floor extremely well.”
Marionville will look to both Blevins and fellow sophomore Olivia Hopkins for leadership.
“They are leaders, not only on the court but in the classroom as well. They are going to show up to everything and want to be challenged to get better,” Grubbs said.
Hopkins has shown good off-season improvement on the court.
“Olivia has really worked to improve her overall game. We will need her to be good and stay on the floor at all times,” Grubbs said.
A trio of freshmen will also have an impact.
“Hannah Phillips, Lucy Newberry, and Zailee Holder all will have an impact this season. They all bring something different to the table. Hannah and Zailee will defend with a lot of effort and energy. Lucy has the ability to score in different ways. We will need all three to contribute,” Grubbs said.
Junior Bre Schapeler also returns after starting the past two years.
“Bre has gotten better every year. We will need her to continue that trend. (She is a) very athletic player who can make an impact when she wants to. (We) need her to be more consistent,” Grubbs said.
The Lady Comets will be switching up their defensive style.
“We are making the transition to a man-man defensive team. We want to be known for being able to guard you and offensively being able to take care of the basketball, taking high quality shots,” Grubbs said.
Marionville opens the season in the Verona Tip-Off Classic Nov. 21-25.
“(I am) really excited for this upcoming season with this group of girls,” Grubbs said. “They are fun to coach. They play hard and compete.”