By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Stop here Millington Lady Trojan Basketball fan if you heard this one before: the Lady Trojans will take on a new-look league featuring traditional basketball powers.
Since 2012, Millington has gone from playing the likes of Bolton, Bartlett and Arlington in districts to taking on Liberty, Jackson North Side and JCM.
With classification changes and even some school closures, Millington Head Coach Bruce Marshall has gone from winning the Distrtict 14-3A title to battling the best in District 15-2A in his tenure.
The 2017-18 season brings even more changes with the departure of Liberty and JNS and the arrivals of Fayette-Ware and Bolivar.
“I think it’s going to be as tough as it has been in the past,” Marshall said. “Fayette-Ware played in our Christmas Tournament last year. They’ve got a quality team. Bolivar Central has displayed a solid basketball program. Things aren’t going to get any easier losing the two good Jackson teams. You’ve got to come and play every night.
“Ripley will be good as well,” he continued. “Coach Lonnie does a good job up there getting his kids prepared day in and day out. Haywood has the one of the best players in the state of Tennessee Jamirah Shutes with a new coach. But she’s not new to coaching. So they’ll be one of the favorite And Covington will throw athletes at you all over the court.”
With the quality of District 15-2A still solid across the board, Marshall said this past summer was crucial for the development of his team. Marshall’s returning backcourt members put in extra work with the graduations of Traci Clark, Trevona DeSouza and Marquisha Sanders.
Sanders, an All-District selection, was the leading scorer for the Lady Trojans last season.
“They all were able to get their feet wet as far as what real basketball is all about,” Marshall noted. “Especially after this summer, there wasn’t a Marquisha to get the ball up the floor. They had to do it themselves. They were actually pretty successful in growing up and understanding how difficult of a job it is.
“They realize how easy Marquisha made it for them getting the ball up the court herself,” he continued. “So now it’s going to take more of a team effort to get the ball up the floor and break presses.”
So the players taking the reigns of the offense will be Taylor Payne, Keyana Jones and Sky Clark. Clark will be a combo guard and see some time at the three-position. Payne will be counted on for athleticism and creating off the dribble.
Jones is a senior and will be counted on for on and off the court leadership. Jones shared time with Sanders last season running the point.
In the post, Marshall wants to see the development of Kamyiah “KT” Tomlin. The sophomore post player has the potential to be a 10/10 player.
A pair of Lady Trojans are returning from knee injuries with Eliana Chambers and Kiara Kemp. The guards will be big contributors on offense and defense.
“We’re going to be very heavily guard-oriented,” Marshall said. “We’re hoping to press. We’re not necessarily looking for steals from it. We want to keep the other team busy, not just walk the ball up the court. Make it a little bit harder for them to get into their offensive sets with traps and pressure.”
If the Lady Trojans stay healthy and use their athleticism, they can compete in the new-look district.
“I really think this group and come prepared and play together,” Marshall concluded. “We’ll have a chance to compete and be successful this year. I want to be .500 in the district and just put ourselves in a position to compete every night.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.