Balance key for Marvin Ridge girls basketball team

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At A Glance

Marvin Ridge Girls Basketball

Coach: Jamie Ellis

2016-2017 Record: 14-12 overall, 6-4 Southern Carolina Conference

Notable: Marvin Ridge returns four starters from last year’s team. … The Mavericks were 0-25 in 2014-2015. … Coach Jamie Ellis became the Mavs’ head coach two games into last season.

Marvin Ridge is off to a solid start this season and the Mavericks girls’ basketball team is looking to make a postseason run just three years after failing to win a single game during the 2014-2015 season.

Marvin Ridge is off to a 6-2 start and they opened Southern Carolina Conference play with a 42-30 victory over Monroe in the league opener last week. The Mavericks’ two losses are to Ardrey Kell and Nation Ford.

“Taking down Monroe was a good win for us,” said Marvin Ridge head coach Jamie Ellis.

Marvin Ridge entered a conference game against Cuthbertson on Dec. 12 after a 62-28 victory over Forest Hills in a nonconference game on Dec. 11

The Mavericks return four starters from last year’s team and balanced scoring has been key to the team’s early-season success. Three players are averaging seven points or more a game. Megan Glover, Sara Hardwick, Ryley Keefe and Ava Fox all started last season and freshman guard Noble Tsumas has already made an impact for the Mavericks.

“We are counting on all of our players to produce,” Ellis said. “We have a lot of weapons and we try to push them hard to get them better at every practice. I think we realize that there doesn’t need to be one superstar and I think you can tell by our ball movement that we don’t care who scores. It is really nice to watch. If we can get six points from everybody, we are going to win a lot of games.”

Glover, a 5-foot-4 senior guard, is averaging seven points and two rebounds a game the first seven games of the season.

“Megan, I call her our bulldog,” Ellis said. “I put her on the toughest players, the quickest player. But she is also a good shooter. She has an impact on the game. Being a senior, she is a really good leader.”

Hardwick, a 5-8 junior guard/forward, is averaging 5.4 points, four rebounds and two assists a game so far this season.

“Sara is our point guard and she is our offensive leader,” Ellis said. “When she is in the game and she is calm, everyone else is calm.”

Keefe, a 5-10 sophomore guard, is averaging 4.3 points and 4.3 rebounds a game after starting as a freshman last season.

“Last year, I started Ryley because of her defense,” Ellis said. “She is really long. This year, she has stepped up and played down low. She comes up with a lot of rebounds. She is key when we play bigger people.”

Fox is averaging 10 points and four rebounds a game for the Mavericks. Fox missed several early games with an injury but is expected to be a factor in the SCC race.

“She will never give up,” Ellis said. “She is our leading scorer and for us to win she has to put up eight, 10 points a game.”

Tsumas, a 5-7 freshman, is averaging eight points and five rebounds a game in her first year of varsity action.

“She is our point guard in progress,” Ellis said. “She has real good court awareness. She can shoot and she can drive in the paint. She can really do everything. I am also impressed with her defense.”

Sophomore Hannah Makarewicz is also providing key minutes for the Mavericks.

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Paul Nielsen
Nielsen was a sports writer for what is now the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for nearly 32 years before moving to North Carolina in February 2016. At the Democrat-Gazette, Nielsen's primary responsibility was beat coverage for Rogers High School. Rogers is a Class 7A school located in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen, a University of Arkansas graduate, covered the Northwest Arkansas Naturals Minor League Baseball team from 2008-2015. The Naturals are the Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
Nielsen has experience covering University of Arkansas athletics, including NCAA Tournament basketball games and several football bowl games. He also covered amateur and professional golf tournaments in Northwest Arkansas.
Nielsen lives in Matthews with his wife, Susan. He can be reached at