The Meadowdale girls basketball team is looking to surprise people this season.
A preseason coaches poll had the Mavericks at the bottom of the five-team Wesco 3A South Division.
That didn’t exactly sit well with senior Mackenzie Bretz.
“A lot of people are doubting us,” she said. “I think we’re stronger than how people see us now. It’s all about peaking at the right time.”
Last year, Meadowdale was in the thick of the playoff hunt but then some late season losses hurt the Mavericks.
This season Bretz is hoping Meadowdale is going to be a team that finishes strong.
“I think we’re going to be the team that progresses over the season and as we go on we play better as a team,” Bretz said.
The Mavericks underwent some changes in the offseason, starting at the top with the promotion of junior varsity coach Marcus Merrifield to head coach after former head coach Troy Parker resigned
Merrifield hasn’t made any wholesale changes to the program but he is bringing his own philosophy to the team.
“We’ve changed a little schematically from what we do,” Merrifield said. “But it’s not a complete departure. Some of the concepts defensively are similar. … Our personnel is a little bit different than last year.”
Meadowdale graduated five seniors but brings back three players who started at various points of the season in Bretz, senior Ndey Sonko and junior Keely Haynes.
Meadowdale had a balanced attack and those three players were always in the mix offensively.
“We expect some other kids as well to kind of step up and fill the roles,” Merrifield said. “We’ve got quite a few kids that are excited to meet the challenge.”
Meadowdale likely won’t have a dominant offensive player, which doesn’t bother Merrifield.
“In a lot of ways that’s an asset,” he said. “On any given game, Ndey or Jackie (Barhoum) or Mackenzie or Keeley could score in double digits. I think in a lot of ways it makes it hard for other teams.”
While many of incoming seniors were on varsity last season, some did not see a lot of playing time. So those players, such as Barhoum, are working hard to prepare them for varsity play.
“We’re bringing the intensity and setting an example for the younger kids on the team,” Barhoum said. “That’s what we’re going to continue to do, just bring the intensity. They will have to step up.”
Moving into the starting point guard role is senior Kearstin Franco, who was the backup last season.
“I expect her to really take a big jump from where she was last year, not just basketball-wise but just in a leadership role,” Merrifield said.
Merrifield isn’t the only new coach in the league as there are three new coaches in the league.
“There are a lot of things up in the air until we start playing,” Merrifield said. “Playing our best basketball in January is what our goal is because teams that play their best get to play in February and the lucky ones get to play in March.”
–By David Pan/Lynnwood Today editor