Ladies ranked #2 to start
And they're not the only ones. People all over the state are anticipating big things from the team.
The Texas Association of Basketball Coaches pre-season poll - the most recent poll at press time - ranked the Lady Marlins at No. 2 in the state among Class 1A Division I high schools. The Martin's Mill High School Lady Mustangs are ranked No. 1. The girls from Martin's Mill, located in the town of Ben Wheeler, between Tyler and Dallas, are the defending state champions.
First on the Lady Marlins' plate this season is a scrimmage scheduled in Odem tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 3. The first regular season game will be on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at Goliad.
Last year, the Marlin varsity girls team went 33-3, taking the district and bi-district championships, but losing by a score of 41 to 35 to Harper High School, near Kerrville, at the area round of the playoffs.
"That's kind of a sore spot for us," said Coach Randy Henderson. "...We didn't feel like we gave our best performance in that game. We were nervous and tentative."
"I think we can meet the challenge," Henderson said. "I definitely do."
This, despite the fact that the Lady Marlins have what Henderson considers a harder schedule this year. The Port Aransas team will be going up against teams from several 4A and 5A high schools. In addition, contenders in Port Aransas's district this year include Pettus and Falls City, Henderson said.
But the Port Aransas team is more experienced this year than last. The team has eight returning lettermen - four seniors and four juniors. Last year, the team had three returning seniors and three returning juniors.
"You look at most schools this size, and two or three kids can play at the varsity level," Henderson said. "But I think we have nine or 10 who can play at the varsity level."
The Lady Marlins will use a playing style similar to last year's, Henderson said.
"We're going to try to play a very energetic, fast-paced game and really try to take advantage of our depth and experience," he said. The Marlin Classic tournament will be Nov. 16-18. Especially entertaining could be the tournament's Thursday and Friday night games against teams from the big high schools of Lampasas and Houston's Jefferson Davis, Henderson said.
Stand-outs on the Port Aransas team this year are expected to include 5-foot-11-inch Whitney Williams, who was named to the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class A all-state team the past two years.
"I'm really excited, because I think the team is looking really good," she said. "I think we are way ahead of where we were last year (at this time)."
Henderson said his team is using last year's loss at the area level as motivation to do better this year. Player Katie Coeckelenbergh agreed.
"We tell ourselves we're not going to let that happen again," Coeckelenbergh said.