Preview: Pioneers Look to Make Noise in 2013-14

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After a 10-16 season last year, second-year coach Stacia Shrider and the rest of the Marietta Pioneers are ready to make some noise this season. The Pioneers return an experienced team after only losing one senior.

It was a disappointing season for the Pioneers in conference play last year. After finishing 5-13 in the Ohio Athletic Conference, with 11 of those losses coming in 11 straight conference games, Shrider knows they need to do a lot better.

“We have some big expectations for our team this season,” Shrider said. “We want to be more competitive in the OAC this season. We want to be the team to make some noise and in order to do that we need to be strong defensively. We want to be a force to be reckoned with. Our goal is to host an OAC tournament game.”

Two returning seniors, Paige Lamb and Tori Dixon, lead this Pioneers’ team. Being the only two seniors, Lamb and Dixon understand that everyone on the team will be looking to them, and they believe that they are ready to lead this team to success.

“Tori and I need to provide the best leadership possible, on and off the court,” Lamb said. “Everyone knows how passionate we are and how much we love playing, so with it being our last season, we know that everyone has our backs, so we can make this the best season possible.”

Lamb was the team’s Rajon Rondo last season.

“She didn’t put up any big stats,” Shrider said. “She did all the intangibles that don’t show up on the scorecard.”

Lamb averaged 4.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

“Being the only two seniors, Paige and I need to motivate everyone to go hard in practice, even when school starts getting harder,” Dixon said via text message. “We need to keep the team pushing towards our goals, and that if we hit a slump, that we are a family and we need to stick together to make this a winning season.”

Dixon was the team’s workhorse last season, averaging 11.1 points, 1.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. With those averages, Dixon earned All-OAC honors.

Marietta returns four starters. Partnering with Lamb and Dixon are forwards Heather Booth and Candice Alexander. Booth averaged 9.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, and Alexander averaged 10.5 points, 7 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game, earning her All-OAC honorable mention honors.

“Those four players will be relied on heavily,” Shrider stated. “We will look to them in practices and games to carry the load for the team.”

The Pioneers welcome seven new members to their basketball community. Being a college freshman isn’t easy, but Shrider won’t take any excuses. 

“The freshmen will need to be ready to contribute,” Shrider said. “Despite what grade they are in, they are collegiate athletes, so they need to be ready to contribute to the team.”

With her final season about to start, Lamb is ready to lead this team, and she has some expectations of her own.

“My expectation this season is to change the name of Marietta women’s college basketball from what it has been in the past,” Lamb said. “I would like to show people how hard we have worked in the offseason and how different of a team we really are. Coach has given us the tools to succeed, now we just need to execute.”