Senior laden Bulldogs look to be in the mix for Upper Iowa Conference title

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Members of the MFL MarMac girls basketball team are Kaitlin Picha, Autumn Shaw, Ashley Shaw, Avery Lamborn, Hannah Bogdonovich, Ella Corlett, Grace Anderson, Brooklynn Moon, Ava Kishman, Marie Richard, Keagan Echard; (middle) managers Isabella Bogdonovich and Abby Schellhorn, Carlie Jones, Riley Moreland, Lakota Morrissey, Miranda Lang, managers Shelby Mielke, Kryss Davies and Emme Schroeder, assistant coach Jess Schubert; (back) assistant coach Stephanie Michel, head coach Jason Winter and assistant coach Brian Bugenhagen. Not pictured is Caydence Moon. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


MFL MarMac expects to be one of several teams in the mix for this season’s Upper Iowa Conference girls basketball title.


“I think the conference race will be very interesting this year,” said head coach Jason Winter, who anticipates strong showings from last year’s champ, North Fayette Valley, along with Turkey Valley and Central. 


“With four seniors who have a lot of varsity experience, we should be fairly competitive. We’re going to lean on them a lot,” he added. “And a lot depends on if we can stay healthy and injury free.”


MFL MarMac’s seniors include four-year starter Riley Moreland, a recent Division II college commit, as well as Miranda Lang, who’s played four years at the varsity level—three of them starting. Lakota Morrissey, sidelined two years ago with an injury, “is starting to get back into her thing,” said Winter, and Carlie Jones will be an important component.


“Carlie Jones last year got her feet wet with some varsity action. Now, this year, hopefully she’ll take that next step and be able to provide some quality minutes as a senior,” Winter said.


Another key player will be junior Grace Anderson, who, if healthy, can join Moreland as an interior presence. Fellow juniors Brooklynn Moon, Caydence Moon and Ashley Shaw will also see some playing time, as will sophomores Kaitlin Picha and Hannah Bogdonovich.


“We do have some depth this year,” said Winter. “But we’re not very big—we’re small with a lot of guards—so we’ve talked about really trying to pressure the perimeter. I think we could send out as many as five or six guards on any given night. Just who’s night is it, who’s going to play hard, who’s going to get after it defensively?”


“We like to get after it baseline to baseline. This year, with as many guards as we’ve got, that should not be a problem,” he added.


MFL MarMac will rely on Moreland to be a 20 points-per-game scorer. As a result, every opponent will key in on her, Winter said. 


“She’s going to have to grow and be that person who plays through double or triple teams. She’ll have go on the perimeter a little more and take outside shots,” he stated. “She’s got to be more aggressive and look to score more, to take the game to the next level and be that go-to scorer for us.”


Other players will have to step up too, though. Winter hopes Anderson and Lang can be additional double-figure scorers. The Bulldog guards will also have to be confident enough to shoot the ball.


“In order for us to be the team we want to be, those kids are going to have to take those open shots,” he said. “Shoot the basketball. If you don’t shoot it, you won’t ever have the chance to make it. Then we can also have a chance at an offensive rebound.”


According to Winter, it will be important for MFL MarMac to stay positive and “stay with the process.”


“Don’t get frustrated, especially starting out with such a tough schedule,” he remarked.


The Bulldogs kicked off the season Nov. 23, at defending UIC champ NFV. Then they’ll head to Waukon on Nov. 29, before hosting Turkey Valley in another tough conference battle on Nov. 30. 


“We’re going to find out right away how we are,” Winter said. “But if we drop one, I’m not going to let it discourage us or scare us from what we’re capable of doing.”

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