The East Marion Lady Eagles basketball squad is no stranger to success with back-to-back undefeated campaigns in district play and reaching the Final Four two years ago and the second round of the playoffs last year. But now they’re back in Class 2A after two years in 1A and are without Tytianna Porter, who was their star player for several years.
It hasn’t been an easy transition for East Marion, who is 2-7 to start the year, but the Lady Eagles have played eight teams in higher classifications. Head coach Calvin Brown said East Marion’s inexperience has been key to its slow start.
“We scheduled up and we’ve been playing people that are not necessarily better than us but are more mature,” he said.
The Lady Eagles have just one senior in Kaitlyn Echols but return two underclassmen, Destiny Brown and Lia Smith, who were starters a year ago. Destiny Brown and Smith are East Marion’s two leading scorers at 10.3 points per game and 8.9, respectively.
“We expect to play through Destiny and Lia, and they’re growing into those shoes. They’re just not comfortable carrying that load and don’t really understand what that means and how to go about creating those opportunities within what we do,” Brown explained. “That’s why we play up. These lumps we’re taking, they were expected. We’re just hoping it all pays off in January.”
Brown said he’s honestly not sure how the Lady Eagles will fare when they start playing fellow Class 2A opponents but that his expectations are really high. He said he expects to be in contention for a district title and be in the hunt statewide. He said he’s not really familiar with Region 8-2A, but from what he’s been able to gather so far he thinks North Forrest is the team to beat and St. Patrick should be pretty good.
Brown said he expects the freshmen class, which features Asia Lenoir, Car’Miyah Bullock and Kaliyah Green, to make their presence felt in the rotation at some point this year. He added junior Azariyah Magee is the engine that makes East Marion go on the defensive end, and she gives the Lady Eagles a toughness he wants to be contagious throughout the team.
East Marion played at West Marion Friday night, but results were unavailable at press time. The Lady Eagles will stay on the road Saturday night to take on Columbia.