Photo by Diane Cox
Pictured are the senior members of the Marquette Catholic girls’ basketball team for the ‘15-16 season. In front from left to right are: Elena Gable, Emily Holden and Caitlyn Hanlon. In back from left to right are: Allison Hoefert, Andria Pace and Brittany Pace.
Marquette Catholic girls' basketball head coach Meagan Hanlon said she learned a lot during her first season at the helm of the program. Now she's back for year two and she's hoping for better things from her Explorers' squad.
Last season Marquette finished 7-20 and fell to host Carlyle 54-43 in the opening round of the Class 2A Carlyle Regional. With three returning starters and others with varsity experience she believes it should be better in '15-16.
“This is my fourth year here, I spent two years at JV and it's my second year at varsity,” Hanlon said. “I'm learning to be patient and going with the flow to make sure these girls have the drive because basketball is a long season. I want to keep them up and going. Last year we only had seven wins, so that's hard to keep some momentum and keep their spirits raised. I'm hoping for a better season this year.”
It will start with the three returning senior starters. Twin forwards Andria Pace (6-1) and Brittany Pace (6-1) and guard/forward Caitlyn Hanlon (5-7) will stir the Explorers. They were also the three leading scorers for the program a year ago.
“I only lost two seniors last year (Claire Snider and Amber Robinson). It was a big loss, but only two thankfully,” Hanlon said. “We have six seniors this year and probably four or five of those will be rotating starters. I also have some strong juniors and some strong sophomores I'm bringing up to the varsity level, too. They will all get playing time.
“I have three returning starters and that's Andria Pace, Brittany Pace and Caitlyn Hanlon. I expect a lot out of them. They started last year so they've got a varsity season under their belt and know what to expect in the intensity of the play.”
The other seniors for Marquette are Elena Gable (5-6), Allison Hoefert (5-7) and Emily Holden (5-5).
“Out of those three Allison will probably be starting for us, too,” Hanlon said. “Elena and Emily are strong guards that will switch off and on for our offense.”
There are then two juniors in Kelsey Blasingim (5-7) and Madi Connors (5-3) and four sophomores dressing in Taylor Aguirre (5-6), Lauren Fischer (5-9), Peyton Kline (5-5) and Lila Snider (5-7).
“Kelsey Blasingim dressed for me some last year as a sophomore and got in some games,” Hanlon said. “She's strong underneath and I'm looking to her. Madi Connors is another junior who's playing, she's very quick, probably the fastest girl on our team. I'm hoping for a lot of breakaways and layups with her.”
Hanlon just believes with the varsity minutes logged last season the Explorers should be an improved basketball team. There's a learning curve picking up the physicality and speed of the varsity level.
“For the ones that played last year, they know what to expect now,” Hanlon said. “Coming from JV to varsity is quite a different ball game with intensity, speed, strength of players, especially underneath. I know they learned a lot last year and they're going to put that into this year and be stronger, quicker and better.”
The schedule looks mostly the same as last season. Marquette began the week in the Columbia Thanksgiving Tournament, which concludes on Saturday. The Explorers then open the Prairie State Conference at East Alton-Wood River at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
One major addition will be the Ursuline Shootout in Missouri on Nov. 28 where they will face highly touted Incarnate Word Academy. The Red Knights are the defending Missouri Class 4 state champions.
Luckily Napheesa Collier has moved on to play basketball at the University of Connecticut and the Explorers won't have to contend with her.
“That will be quite a learning experience for these girls,” Hanlon said of playing Incarnate Word. “That will be very tough.”
The other main change is they have shifted from the Lebanon Holiday Tournament to the Gibault Holiday Tournament.
Hanlon just hopes it all helps whenever her squad reaches the postseason. Marquette lost a close one to Carlyle last year and Hanlon wants to come out on the better end of those close games in '15-16.
“That was a close one,” she said of the Carlyle game. “We only got seven wins last year, so obviously we want more wins, we want to do better in our conference of course regionals. That was a pretty tight game last year and I felt that we should have won that game. The ball didn't bounce the way it should have and that happens sometimes. We'd like to get a regional championship, that's one of our goals.”
NAME HT POS
Elena Gable 5-6 G
Caitlyn Hanlon 5-7 PG/F
Allison Hoefert 5-7 G/F
Emily Holden 5’5 G
Andria Pace 6-1 F
Brittany Pace 6-1 F
Kelsey Blasingim 5-7 F
Madi Connors 5-3 G
Taylor Aguirre 5-6 G
Lauren Fischer 5-9 F
Peyton Kline 5-5 G
Lila Snider 5-7 G/F