Marvin Ridge doesn’t have the reputation for being a girls’ basketball power, but the Mavericks are trying to change that.
Two years ago, the Mavericks finished with an abysmal 0-23 record many folks want to forget, but it can be tough to appreciate where a team is without seeing how far it had to go to get there.
Marvin Ridge is 13-9 (5-3 Southern Carolinas) and in position to finish runner-up in conference play.
The Mavs didn’t get there overnight. It’s been a difficult journey.
Jamie Ellis, who played at Marvin Ridge before taking her talents to Guilford College, was thrust into her head-coaching role at 21 years old. Ellis got solid minutes as a freshman with the Quakers. However, she decided to end her playing career, transfer to Wingate and get into coaching.
Marvin Ridge athletics director Tom Jamerson gave her an assistant coaching opportunity last season. She replaced Marshall Smith two games into this season after he was relieved of his head-coaching duties.
Ellis knew she couldn’t give the program a complete facelift immediately, so she made gradual changes and began to slowly implement her way of doing things. She started by having a meeting with the players, where they talked through everything that had gone on with the team up until that point. Ellis followed that by asking them what they wanted to get out of the season, what they wanted her to change and what their goal for the season was. The girls said they wanted to win 12 games, which they have surpassed.
“I’m so happy with their progress,” Ellis said. “It’s crazy.”
Marvin Ridge has never won a conference championship in girls’ basketball. The Mavericks were in first place in the Southern Carolinas Conference standings before its 46-36, loss to Cuthbertson on Tuesday, Feb. 7. However, the conference tournament next week will be a good opportunity for the Mavs to finally bring home a league title of some sort.
Senior captain Juliana Lombard (9.3 ppg and 7.1 rpg), who anchors the post, provides a calming presence. Sophomore captain Sara Hardwick (8.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game) is the coach on the floor as the starting point guard. She’s an extension of Ellis. Junior captain Ava Fox (7.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game) gives the Mavs a solid scorer, while junior Megan Glover (11.6 points per game) is a gritty perimeter defender who frustrates opposing guards.
Marvin Ridge isn’t an overwhelmingly impressive offensive team, but it is balanced, disciplined, well-coached and plays good defense.
“We’ve worked really hard, and we’ve come together as a team,” Hardwick said.
The girls have strong team chemistry. They enjoy hanging out together even outside of basketball. Stacks is their favorite breakfast spot on the weekends.
This is a young team. Four of Marvin Ridge’s nine players are freshmen. The future should be bright for Ellis and the girls as they try to turn the Mavs into a perennial power. The best has yet to come for a team that has the potential to accomplish much in the conference tournament and state playoffs.