Deep Lady Pats pound Osceola
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
Though it may seem like a rather simple request, Marion’s fourth-year head coach Shunda Johnson has wanted one thing more than maybe anything else during her time leading the Lady Patriots. A deeper bench that she can use to mix and match depending on matchups that change from night to night. It’s still early in her team’s 2015-2016 season, but it appears as though her wish has been granted after Marion’s first two games. The Lady Pats got to 1-1 last night after dropping Osceola 63-33. The Lady Pats employed 14 players against the Lady Seminoles, who showed up the classic with eight players of their own. That total is up from five in 2013 and six in 2014. Of the 14 Marion players who checked into the contest, 11 scored, with junior Marie Hunter leading the way with 14 points and Ebony Day checking in with 12 of her own. Kendra Glasper paced the Lady Pats with 7 rebounds while Tyquesha Selvy and Kennedi Boykins each posted 3 assists apiece and Hunter and sophomore Ashley Harney each came up with 4 steals to lead the way in that stat. While Marion ended up running away with the game, that wasn’t always the case. Osceola led 2-0 and the Lady Pats misfired on their first 6 shots as their starters had trouble getting on track in the first 3 minutes of play. That’s when Johnson went to her second unit headlined by Hunter, Boykins, Jakyya Clay, Glasper and Rakiyah Jones. Utilizing a full-court press, the hosts almost immediately ripped off a 12-0 run to seize a 12-2 lead, and claimed an 18-6 lead after the opening stanza. “That group is my quickest group that I have,” Johnson explained. “They want to get deflections. They want to play fast and they really want to get steals.” In all, Marion forced 27 Osceola turnovers, a majority of them coming as a result of the Lady Patriot press. Marion toted a 39-15 lead with it to the lockers as Day scored 9 points in the second quarter alone on a variety of moves in the low post. “Ebony is doing what she’s supposed to do. She’s 6-2 and she needs to be a force in the paint. I’m hoping that her scoring down there opens up some open looks from the outside,” Johnson said of her post presence. The Lady Pats pushed on in the third quarter, leading 52-25 after that frame while forcing 6 more Osceola turnovers. Marion outscored Osceola 9-8 in the fourth quarter alone to clinch the final behind 5 more turnovers. “The intensity on defense and the energy level is definitely a 180 from last year,” says Johnson. “We have more than one person who wants to go out and get the job done now. 1-12 to be honest with you. Just having a bench that can go out and play and not drop off is great.” The Lady Pats are right back at it tonight when they play the Earle Lady Bulldogs at 6 p.m. Earle fell to West Memphis yesterday.