New faces key to Marion girls’ success

These seniors and letter-winners will form the core for the Marion girls’ basketball team this season: (from left) Taelyn Pagel, Kourtney Hansen, Molly Hess, Marissa Jacobson.
These seniors and letter-winners will form the core for the Marion girls’ basketball team this season: (from left) Taelyn Pagel, Kourtney Hansen, Molly Hess, Marissa Jacobson.
With the loss of seven seniors from a year ago, the Marion girls’ basketball team will rely on new faces this season.

Following a 6-15 campaign in 2014-15, the Warriors went 16-6 a year ago, fielding the highest scoring team that coach Kelly Robson has had at Marion.

Entering his fifth year at the helm, Robson will seek to continue that upward trend, but will do so without three honorable mention all-league picks from last year: Kirsten Hansen, Erika Hess and Bailey Robson.

But Marion’s leading scorer from last year, junior Kourtney Hansen, returns to lead the team.

“Replacing that scoring is going to be difficult, but Kourtney hasn’t reached her ceiling yet,” Robson said. “We’re going to rely on her for a lot of leadership and those points when we need points.”

As Marion’s sole returning starter, the 5-foot, 8-inch Hansen averaged 10.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.6 steals a year ago and was a first-team, all-league selection at forward.

“(Kourtney’s) just a really good all-around player,” Rob­son said. “We’re trying to get her to work on her outside shooting a little bit. She’s not real comfortable out there, but she does a great job right around the basket in the lane area.”

Aside from Hansen, Robson will rely on players who saw a majority of time at the junior varsity level a year ago.

“This year’s junior class played a lot of JV games,” Robson said. “That’s just what their role was, and they had a successful JV season. We are going to ask them to try to step up and do what they can. They helped us all last year in the varsity practices, so it’s hopefully not the biggest adjustment they’ve ever had to make.”

Projected to start at guard are senior Taelyn Pagel (5-5) and juniors Sam Richmond (5-4) and Courtney Herzet (5-4).

“Taelyn is a strong player,” Robson said. “She has a few adjustments to make in her shooting, but she’s working really hard at it.

“Sam Richmond is much more comfortable farther from the basket. Not as strong with the ball in her hands, necessarily, but I think she can shoot it fairly well.

“Courtney Herzet (has) worked really hard at her outside shooting. She’s going to be needed for us out there as well.”

With the departure of starting point guard Kirsten Hansen, Robson said he is still trying to find someone to fill that role.

Joining Kourtney Hansen at forward is senior Marissa Jacobson (5-10), who returns to the team after a year-long hiatus.

“(Marissa) played her first two years and then took last year off,” Robson said. “She’s been having some knee issues, but she’ll add something in there.”

Additional returning players include juniors Alli Molleker (5-9) and Jessi Lewman (5-10) at forward and Corin Parmley (5-4) at guard.

A newcomer to watch is sophomore guard Corrina Crabb (5-5).

Outlook

Robson said one strength of his team is its knowledge of the game, as well as having previously played together.

“If we can keep developing our shooting and be stronger with the ball in our hands, I think we’re going to be OK,” he said.

The Warriors will seek to maintain the defensive intensity displayed by last year’s squad.

“That senior class last year learned how to bring intensity to the defensive end of the floor,” Robson said. “This year’s junior class wants to do the same.”

Robson said he expects Berean Academy and Ster­ling to be strong in Heart of America league play.

“Looking at our team (and) looking around the league and what other teams lost, I expect us to be a competitive team,” he said. “If we do things well through the fourth quarter and down to the end, we can win our share of games.”

Marion will kick off the season Friday at Southeast of Saline. The Warriors will host Berean Academy in the Marion Classic Monday, Dec. 5.