The varsity basketball team hopes to win back its championship title in the Sunshine League this season in its new division 1A placement and with the support of a new assistant coach.
The team started off the season with an even number of wins and losses, then took third place in its bracket at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Arizona, an invitational event gathering the best varsity basketball teams in the country to compete from Dec. 18-22. The team then faced a loss in the Beverly Hills West Coast Holiday Festival, also referred to as the Beverly Hills Tournament, from Dec. 27-31. According to Coach Trenton Jackson, both tournaments served as learning experiences for the team.
“They went from over-confident to reality, to fighting to understand, ‘Okay this is what we need to do as a group.’ That was a growth environment,” he said.
Jackson said the Beverly Hills Tournament also required the players to work together more, which plays into Jackson’s strategy for winning first in league.
“The strategy is sharing the ball and believing in each other and believing in what’s been taught to them,” Jackson said.
Both Jackson and Athletic Director David Collicutt said the team’s greatest strength is its guards, though the fierce competition in division 1A may prove too much for the Mustangs.
Guards Emily ’11 and Miwa ’11 said they agree that there are some concerns with facing tougher opponents in the new division. Still, Simon said she has hope.
“It’s really a communication thing between the guards and the posts, and once we get that link together we’ll be fine,” Emily said.
The team has also benefited this year from the added presence of new assistant coach Kerry Madison ’05, who organizes games and makes weekly schedules for the players.
At Marlborough, Madison played on the varsity team under Coach Jackson as a small forward and helped the team win four Sunshine League championships and three CIF-SS championships.
She then played on the basketball team at Emory College and coached at St. Monica Catholic High School in Santa Monica, California before returning to Marlborough. Madison kept in touch with Jackson throughout college, and he offered her the position when he heard she was back in the state.
When asked about the difference between playing on the court and coaching from the sidelines, Madison had this to say:
“I feel like you take a lot of things for granted as a player, especially behind-the-scenes things that I never knew went on, like organizing tournaments and setting up days and the little tasks that make the season happen.”
Emily said she appreciates all the organizing Madison does and thinks it’s great that she can relate to the players since she also attended Marlborough.