HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Stingers match expectations with another win
MARION CENTER — Marion Center knows what it’s playing for now.
With a young group short on varsity experience the last couple years, the Stingers have one of the better, more experienced Heritage Conference rosters for the 2013-14 season, and they’re using every possible opportunity to prepare for what they hope to be a deeper run in the District 6 playoffs.
Marion Center’s focus showed Friday night as it rolled past Homer-Center, 64-34, in a Heritage Conference girls’ basketball game.
“They understand that (it’s) fun basketball when everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing out there,” Marion Center coach Jan Brocious said.
The Stingers improved to 3-1 overall, 2-0 in the conference. They went on a 20-2 run spanning parts of the first and second quarters and forced 18 first-half turnovers to assert themselves early.
“We know we can’t show up against good teams and not play our game, so every game has to be intense, with rebounding and low turnovers and all of those things, to prepare ourselves for those really good teams,” Brocious said.
“We like to push the ball,” said forward Chantel Glasser, one of four senior starters for Marion Center. “Sometimes that gets us in a little bit of trouble, but we’re really containing it this year and getting better at that. We have our early offense that we like to run. We like to get the ball down the court and catch the other teams off guard.”
In addition to forcing turnovers, Marion Center outrebounded the Wildcats 43-31 and grabbed 23 offensive rebounds.
“We’ve been really talking about being rebounders, boxing out every time, not just sometimes, and controlling our turnovers,” Brocious said. “We have goals set that we’re going to have so many rebounds, not going to have more than so many turnovers, all those things. ... We want to get better every game.”
Glasser led the Stingers with 23 points and nine rebounds. Jenny Irvin had 17 points, nine steals and five assists, and Kearsten Brocious added 14 points.
“We have a lot of individual goals set for the games,” Glasser said. “We strive to meet them every single time. If we don’t, there are consequences in practice. But we’re basically focusing on being more aggressive and reaching our other goals of the Heritage Conference and things like that.”
Homer-Center (1-2, 0-2) got 11 points from freshman starter Alexis Leysock.
With just one senior on the roster, and junior Kristina Albright out with an injury, the Wildcats are getting a lot of playing time for their younger players. That’s something they hope will pay off in improvements through the season.
“Marion Center’s a very good team,” Homer-Center coach Tom Lasher said. “Can we play better? Yeah, absolutely. Will we? We will. We just have to get back to work on things we should be doing better. It’s just a matter of executing better. A lot of this is trial by fire. Sometimes losing helps you get better. That’s what I’m hoping for. I hate losing. I know they do. Hopefully that gives us incentive to work a little bit harder. I have a talented group of girls. It’s a matter of time until we’re much more competitive than we were tonight. I’ll just have to wait and see how soon that happens.”
Rebuilding from District 6 Class AA championships in 2010 and 2011, Marion Center went 11-11 in 2011-12, Brocious’ first season at the helm. The Stingers got back to the playoffs last year, winning a dramatic first-round game and pushing top-seeded Bald Eagle Area to the brink before falling in the quarterfinals. The Stingers are working on the next step.
“I keep telling them, you’re only as good as what you believe yourself to be,” Jan Brocious said. “They need to believe that they’re one of the top teams around. Every girl is important on this team. Our JV players, I tell them every day, they have to work hard to make our varsity girls better. I have girls that believe what we’re doing is what we need to be doing. It’s fun to watch them up and down the floor, sometimes making passes I don’t know how they get through.”