The Marion boys’ basketball team will be under new leadership this season as Randy Skiles takes the reins as coach.
Skiles comes to Marion from Sedgwick, where he served as athletic director and assistant principal for the past eight years. A desire to return to the classroom and the court prompted the move.
“I gave that up and came back to coaching,” he said.
Skiles brings experience to the position, having coached at Bennington for five years and Logan for three years.
In addition to his coaching duties, Skiles teaches geometry, robotics and engineering. He said he is looking forward to the start of the basketball season.
This year, the Warriors return two starters in senior guards Mason Pedersen and Peyton Heidebrecht. Junior Jack Schneider remains benched as a result of a knee injury sustained in football.
“Peyton and Mason have been here for four years,” Skiles said. “They need to show a bunch of leadership on the floor and get us heading in the right direction.”
Additional returning players include senior post Nathan Baldwin, junior guards Zachary Stuchlik and Colin Williams and sophomore guard Evann Heidebrecht, who may be called upon to play the post position as well.
Skiles said the Warriors are a guard-heavy team this season.
Marion sustained losses at post with the graduation of Nicholas Stuchlik and Dylan Pippin last year, and the Warriors will also play without guard Tyler Zinn. Last season, the Warriors concluded the season with a loss in the sub-state quarterfinals, posting an overall record of 9-12.
Skiles may also rely on some newcomers to fill roles this season, including sophomores Sam Zinn and Noah Dalrymple.
Skiles said he will look to his three seniors for leadership.
“We need some leadership (from them),” he said. “To go out there and set a standard for these younger kids and show them how to work hard and tell them what it takes to be successful and learn how to win.”
Skiles said he expects to field a balanced scoring attack this season.
“We have four guys that can probably score equally among all of them,” he said. “So (opponents) just can’t focus on one guy.”
In addition to the experience Marion returns to the court, another strength of the Warriors this year will be speed.
“We’re not tall, but we’re going to be pretty quick,” Skiles said. “We’ll get up and down the floor pretty good, I think.”
Looking ahead to Heart of America league competition, Skiles said he anticipates Berean Academy to field a competitive team and Remington to be improved. He expects the Warriors to be in contention for the title as well.
“My goal is to finish in the top three in our league—and come out and improve from last year, obviously,” he said.
Marion will open the season Friday at Southeast of Saline The Warriors will host the Marion Classic beginning Monday, Dec. 5.