The Warriors graduated four seniors?Katey Ehrlich, Kelli Hess, Megan Richmond and Kaelyn Thierolf, including last year?s top two scorers in Ehrlich and Hess.
But third-year coach Kelly Robson is confident he has the players to replace the scoring from last year?s 9-12 season.
?As a group, we?re a pretty good shooting team,? Robson said. ?Whether we get the kinds of shots we want will remain to be seen.?
Marion?s sole returning starter is 5-foot, 4-inch junior guard Kirsten Hansen, who is coming off a knee injury sustained at the end of last basketball season.
Last year, Hansen turned in per-game averages of 3.8 points, 3 rebounds and 3.4 steals. She will be called upon as the Warriors? primary ball-handler this season.
Hansen did play some volleyball this fall, but Robson said it will take time for her to get back to full speed on the basketball court.
?I just don?t know how much she?ll be able to get back to that same old Kir?sten she was before,? Robson said. ?I think she?s been fine so far, and I think she?ll be OK.?
Marion?s only senior, forward Julia Hall, is one of the tallest players on the team at 5-11. Last season, Hall contributed 2.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. She will be looked to for leadership this season.
?She?s been a good leader, she?ll just have to lead on the court now when we start playing, in addition to leading in practice,? Robson said.
Junior Bailey Robson (5-7) returns at guard, and will also be leaned upon more heavily this year. Last year, she averaged 4.8 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
?Bailey Robson will need to contribute a little bit more,? coach Robson said. ?She played quite a bit last year and is a good defender and a good shooter. We?ll need her to do those things.?
Junior forward Marshelle Mermis (5-8) and junior guard Erika Hess (5-7) are also expected to see an increase in varsity minutes, while freshman Kourtney Hansen may also be called upon to contribute.
?Coming in as a freshman, (Kourtney?s) got a lot to learn,? Robson said. ?Kourt?ney?s a good ball player. If she can learn the offenses and defenses we need, she?ll definitely contribute because of her skills.?
Additional newcomers include junior guards McKenzee Remmers (5-5) and Kristen Herzet (5-7).
One of Robson?s first challenges will be establishing team leadership, given the loss of four seniors.
?I think we can replace their skills, I don?t know if we can replace them as people,? he said.
Robson expects Hutchin?son Trinity and Remington to be among the top contenders in the Heart of America league this season, along with Moundridge
?(Hutch Trinity?s) going to be very, very good,? he said. ?They?ve got everybody back that really meant anything to them last year.
?I think Remington will be good again. They lost their best guard, but they have their three tallest players back. They?ve got three players that are taller than anybody I have. I imagine Moundridge will be pretty solid, although they lost a few players as well.?
It will be important for the Warriors to develop an identity as they seek to make positive strides this season.
?I think we have the girls that can play the game,? Robson said. ?We had a good JV season last year, but again, that doesn?t always translate into varsity.
?I?d like to think we can be around that .500 mark and maybe get over it. I?d like to think so, but we?ve got to play well to do that.?
Marion will open the season at Southeast of Saline Friday before returning home for the Marion Classic, which begins Dec. 9 with a matchup against Peabody-Burns.