Coming off a 6-15 season, the Marion High School boys will rely on five seniors as they try to keep pace with the top teams in the Mid-Central Activities Association.
Coach Jeff McMillin, in his second season in charge of the Warriors, looks for Collegiate, Hesston, Nickerson and Halstead to rise to the top of the MCAA in the league?s final season.
Marion posted a 3-8 league record a year ago, and will be challenged to replace the production provided by graduates Elliot Hett, Mitch Leppke and Luke Gordon.
Into the starting center role formerly filled by Gordon steps Eric Vogel?a three-year starter who has established a reputation for steadiness and toughness in the paint. With post skills far in excess of his height, Vogel will be looked upon provide rebounding at both ends.
?We have basically three positions?guards, wings and posts,? McMillin said. ?Obviously, we don?t have a true post?a back-to-the-basket-type player?so we?ll have posts who end up playing 15 feet from the basket.?
As he proved with a 21-point outing last January, Vogel can score more than just second-chance points.
?Eric is looking forward to a very good year,? McMillin said. ?He?ll be stepping into a leadership role and will be a focal point of what we?re about on offense.?
Marion?s other returning full-time starter is Isaac Hett?one of the tallest players on the roster at 6 feet, 3 inches. A disruptive wing defender last year, Hett will have to play closer to the basket because of a lack of team height?making the Warriors quicker than most others on the low block and contributing to an overall team identity based on range and athleticism.
?Isaac is in kind of the same boat as Eric?he had a stretch during our first games where he hit for 15, 16, 20, and then kind of slowed down,? McMillin said. ?He also does lots of good things when he?s not scoring. He puts pressure on the ball and he has worked hard to be a team guy. He wants to win.?
Marion?s group of seniors also includes returning pointman Drew Maddox, who gained experience spelling Leppke a year ago; Wil Case, who scored in bursts coming off the bench in late-season games last year; and Mitch Cady.
?Drew has good, good athleticism in terms of his quickness,? McMillen said. ?Probably the most important thing is he understands the way we want things done. He?s the first to understand, and he?s studious about getting things done the right way. And that?s very valuable to have from a team leader.?
?Wil is definitely a wing player?he kind of came on late last year, but he?s the kind of guy who puts the ball in the basket pretty well,? McMillin said. ?He can be a very good all-around player.?
?Mitch is coming back from injury, so we don?t know when we?ll have him,? McMillin said. ?I?ve told him several times that he?s matured and that he can be competitive at a guard-wing combo position. We were hoping to have him healed up early in the season, but it?s been pushed back and we?re not so sure.?
While the Warriors count lack of height and perimeter shooting as weaknesses, their collective commitment to fundamental soundness, rebounding and defense will create chances to win games.
Marion?s season tips off Monday at 8:15 p.m. against Eureka in the first round of the second annual Marion Classic.