The War Eagles look for a second straight state tournament berth as it enters the 2013-14 season with most of their players returning from last season’s Sweet 16 squad.
Marist is certainly a step in the right direction toward that goal so far with a 3-1 overall record and 2-0 mark in Region 6AAAA (A) going into its subregion game with Redan last Friday.
“Every game, we’re getting a little closer to understanding our roles,” Marist coach Kim Hixon said. “We’re settling in a little bit. It seems everyone understands who our scorers are, who’s there to play defense, who’s there to rebound. So every game, every practice is getting us closer to realizing our potential.”
The War Eagles are loaded at the guard position, with 5-foot-8 sophomore Dominique Oden, 5-5 junior Kelsey Carrier (a Vanderbilt soccer commitment) and 5-8 senior Briana Bell leading a strong backcourt.
However, Hixon said Marist still needs to shore up the frontcourt.
“We’ve got our three guards back, so we have a great backcourt,” she said. “We’re just looking for that post presence right now.”
With its guard-oriented lineup, Marist relies on its up-tempo style and a strong transition game to generate offense.
“We like to get up and down the court,” Hixon said. “About 70 percent of our points have been scored off of transition — off of a stop or a steal. We don’t run a lot of half-court sets.”
The War Eagles are looking to 6-2 senior center Kendall Chadwick — a standout on the school’s softball team who is returning to basketball after a year’s absence — to fill the gap under the basket.
Marist once again faces a rigorous schedule in its subregion, which features the likes of defending Class AAAA champion Columbia and state quarterfinalist Redan.
“I’ve been [at Marist] 12 years as head coach and 10 of the last 12 years, the state champions have come out of our region and that’s a huge number,” Hixon said. “[Teams like] Etowah, St. Pius, Southwest DeKalb — it’s unbelievable. [Other teams like] Miller Grove, Columbia. This year, nothing is different. It’s just that we’re in a subregion, whereas we used to be with the Miller Groves and Columbias [in the opposite subregion].
“So, it’s kind of par for the course where we are right now. It’s just a challenge.
“Like I tell the kids, if we can get out of our subregion, we should get some relief for a little bit. We will be facing the best of the best every other night within our region, so we’re definitely prepared for the state tournament if we can just get out [of the region] — that’s the hardest part.”