Marksville (25-5, 8-2) earned a second-place finish in District 3-3A this season. It earned a season split with district rival Avoyelles, the fifth-seed in Class 3A.
Though he said he was not very familiar with the Marksville squad, AHS head coach Dean Dronet said he is expecting a tough matchup.
“I know they’re going to be pretty athletic,” said Dronet. “They supposedly have a really good shooting guard and some good players. They’re really solid. They like to get up and down the floor and get in your face on the defensive end... Hopefully we’ll be ready. We’ve been working on scenarios that might play out and hopefully we can show up ready to play.”
Marksville’s is led by three-year Constance Johnson, the only senior on the squad. The team also boasts a starting freshman in Lorielle Greenhouse.
Second-year Marksville head coach Heath Lewis said, though, that his starting juniors (Rajanae Patterson, Shontera Williams and Deslin Jacob) are “the core” of his team.
All three of those juniors saw at least some playing time in Marksville’s first-round playoff loss last season. Lewis said he believes that experience is serving them well this year.
“I had six seniors last year,” he said. “(But), they played in every game last year (Williams and Jacob) were actually starters last year.
“We’re athletic. Hopefully what we lack in fundamentals we make up for athletically.”
All in all, Lewis said he feels his team has a successful season.
“We’ve had a good season,” he said. “Thinking back on the losses, you could always do a few things to put yourself in better shape to win. But, those are growing pains. It’s part of the journey.”
Dronet said that, though he is expecting a physical game at Marksville, he does not intend to do anything different in strategy.
“I think we’re going to ride the horse that got us here,” he said. “We’ve got a few things we might do to counteract them if the game’s not going our way. We could go to our plan b, but for the most part we’re going to try to go with what got us here. Hopefully that’ll be good enough.”
In the Jennings game, Abbevilles usual suspects of Dyantae Perkins, Elaina Baytop, Jakevia Moore, Bianca Levy and Derrian Nolan saw the bulk of the playing time.
Dronet said that, though his starting five will likely again get most of the minutes, he feels comfortable utilizing his bench if need be.
“I’ve tried to play them a good bit during the season to get them ready for the playoff action,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll be ready if their number’s called... We’ve been giving them reps in practice and that’s really all you can do.”
Dronet said the Lady Wildcats will be taking a charter bus to Marksville on Thursday, and that he has made seats available to the parents of his players that wish to make the trip.
“Hopefully, we can go down there and get the job done and move on to the next round,” he said. “It looks like we’d have a head-on collision with the number-one team Loyola if we can do that. But, we’re looking to get this victory first... We’re definitely not looking past Marksville.”