Pioneer women have been growing through adversity
The Marietta College women’s basketball team will have some big shoes to fill this season.
Two of the Pioneers’ top three scorers from a year ago graduated — Alexis Enochs (13.4 points per game) and Marlo Taylor (11.2 points per game). Enochs was also Marietta’s leading rebounder with 5.1 per game.
“She was a four-year player in the post for us,” said Marietta College head coach Kole Vivian. “We don’t have anyone at her level right now, but we have about five kids who we think can get it done for us.”
Despite Enochs and Taylor being gone, Marietta isn’t without experience and talent.
Returning is senior point guard Bailee Brooks. Brooks averaged 5.9 points per game last year while leading the Pioneers with 56 assists despite missing three games. Vivian sees her taking the next step.
“She has grown so much as a player and person,” he said. “I think she’s going to have a really good year for us.”
A freshman, Madison Cecil, will be the backup point guard.
“She’s coming in here and competing,” Vivian said. “She’s a very intelligent kid and she gets what we’re trying to do.”
The wing position will be Marietta’s biggest strength. The Pioneers return four players with experience at the position, despite losing Taylor.
Devin Hefner returns after a strong sophomore season. She averaged 11.2 points per game and led the team with 44 steals. Vivian said Hefner “looks really good this year.”
Fellow junior Jill Congrove played in all 27 games last season, starting eight. She averaged 5.7 points per game and is the team’s top returning 3-point shooter.
Another junior, Kate Liston, is back after missing time with a knee injury last season. In the 12 games she did play, she averaged 7.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per contest. “She’s doing a good job getting used to contact again,” Vivian said.
Jordyn Kiser is another junior who will contribute at the wing position.
Sophomores Haley Ross, Morgan Borich and Camille Cummins are other players to watch.
Vivian said the Pioneers will be deep this season, and could play up to 12 players in their rotation during games. That will keep players fresh and allow Marietta to play fast.
“We changed our defense a bit,” said Vivian, whose Pioneers finished 14-13 last season. “Last year we were kind of on our heels. This year, we’re getting out on shooters, doing some press and some traps. We’re going to be a lot more aggressive on the defensive end. On offense, we always try to play really fast. We’re doing a couple different things in transition that should make us exciting to watch. This team has the capability to score in the high 60s or low-to-mid 70s.”
Vivian has been impressed with how his players have handled the adversity brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” he said. “Our players, they didn’t know when the season was even going to start, but they all came in here in really good shape. They were going to be ready for the race whenever it started. We started in October, but had some cases on the team and had to shut down for a few weeks. It’s been tough to build a lot of momentum. Practices have been much different, whether it’s how we plan things, wearing masks or starting every drill spaced out six, seven, eight feet. Those are the biggest things.”
Vivian said the Pioneers have been working really hard and expect to compete in the Ohio Athletic Conference. Though John Carroll is “head and shoulders above everybody else,” Vivian said the OAC will be very competitive.
“Mount Union should be good,” he said. “There’s Wilmington, Capital, Otterbein — I think we’re going to be in that mix. We have the talent to be a top four team. If things jell right and go our way, we could definitely be there when the smoke clears.”
The biggest key to success for the Pioneers this season will be getting production from some of their younger, less experienced players.
“We’ve got to have some of our kids who aren’t as experienced grow up,” he said.
“Everyone is mature with their method of coming to practice and following protocols and everything, but we’re going to be playing some kids who don’t have a ton of experience. Hopefully we can kind of grow up early, start off well and keep it going. We need to be lucky in terms of the COVID stuff. You can do everything right, but be too close to somebody, and now you’re out seven days. This year, whoever has success is going to take talent, skill, and some luck.”
Marietta College Women
Head coach: Kole Vivian, 5th year
Last year’s record: 14-13
Assistant coaches: Maggie Miller, Jenna Anderson, Scott Stalter
30 Bailee Brooks (5-5, G); 32 Luce Duritza (5-11, F); 33 Ellen Vichill (5-7, G); 42 Katie McIlroy (5-9, F)
1 Kate Liston (5-9, F); 4 Devin Hefner (5-7, G); 23 Jordyn Kiser (5-8, G); 24 Jill Congrove (5-6, G)
2 Haley Ross (5-5, G); 3 Camille Cummins (5-11, F); 12 Mariah Goodard (5-4, G); 13 Kelsie Warnock (5-8, F); 14 Morgan Borich (5-9, G); 21 Erin Hahn (5-11, F); 40 Parkar Mauk (5-9, F); 44 Addy Crane (6-1, F)
0 Olivia Gribble (5-8, G); 5 Hannah Schill (5-7, G); 15 Mackenzie Wilson (6-0, F); 22 Madison Cecil (5-2, G); 25 Kelly Levering (5-10, F);34 Hannah Kroft (5-11, F)
Jan. 22: Otterbein, 7 p.m.
Jan. 23: at Otterbein, 6 p.m.
Jan. 29: at Baldwin Wallace, 7 p.m.
Jan. 30: Baldwin Wallace, 6 p.m.
Feb. 5: at Muskingum, 7 p.m.
Feb. 6: Muskingum, 6 p.m.
Feb. 12: Wilmington, 7 p.m.
Feb. 13: at Wilmington, 6 p.m.
Feb. 19: Mount Union, 7 p.m.
Feb. 20: at Mount Union, 6 p.m.
Feb. 26: at Capital, 7 p.m.
Feb. 27: Capital, 6 p.m.
March 1: OAC Tournament First Round, 7 p.m. at TBD
March 2: OAC Tournament Quarterfinals, 7 p.m. at TBD
March 4: OAC Tournament Semifinals, 7 p.m. at TBD
March 6: OAC Tournament Championship, 6 p.m. at TBD