The expectations are as high as it gets for the Marshall High School girls basketball team; winning back to back state championships always tends to have that effect.
Gone, however, is the head coach who led the Cardinals to state titles in 2018 and 2019, along with a pair of starters in their backcourt. This year’s Marshall team will be led by Doug Pickarts, who brings in 29 years of experience at DeForest and Barneveld, including 11 conference championships and five state appearances.
On the court, the Cardinals will rely heavily on a pair of junior forwards in Anna Lutz and Laura Nickel. Lutz was last year’s co-Player of the Year (along with teammate Mia Morel who transferred to Madison Memorial) in the Capitol South Conference, and Nickel earned second-team all-conference honors.
“I will lean on them for leadership of our team and to help both the players and myself adjust to each other’s playing strengths and coaching style,” said Pickarts. “They obviously are the focus of our offense, but we still need other to step up and take the pressure off them.”
In the backcourt, junior Mya Andrews is the lone returning starter. Though the Cardinals will be able to rely on Andrews for consistency as the season progresses, Marshall will look for new players to step into starting roles alongside her.
“We have to have others step up and contribute with our guard play,” added Pickarts. “I expect (seniors) Rain Held and Sandra Assaba to give us solid contribution in our guard play, but we will need others to step up as well.”
Even with the significant turnover — both on the roster and in the coaching staff — the Cardinals are likely to be frontrunners once more in the Capitol South Conference. A tough non-conference schedule should help prepare Marshall for both conference play and the postseason in hopes of making another run to the Resch Center at season’s end.
“Our non-conference schedule is as difficult as anyone in the state, so we will be challenged by the end of the season,” Pickarts said. “We will strive to be the best team we are capable and go from there.”
The Cardinals will start their season in Beaver Dam on Friday, playing in a tournament with their first game against Germantown. Tipoff against the Warhawks is scheduled for 8 p.m.
GIRLS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
(Home games in all CAPS)
Fri.-Sat., Nov. 22-23 Beaver Dam Tour.
Tues. Dec. 3 MONROE, 7:30 p.m.
Thurs., Dec. 5 LAKE MILLS, 7:30 p.m.
Tues. Dec. 10 COLUMBUS, 7:30 p.m.
Fri. Dec. 13 Lodi, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 27 Black Hawk, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 28 Milw. Riverside, 12:30 p.m.
Thurs., Jan. 9 BELLEVILLE, 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Jan 14 WATERLOO, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Jan 17 New Glarus, 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 21 Lakeside Luth, 7:30 p.m.
Thurs., Jan. 23 Cambridge, 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 28 WIS. HEIGHTS, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 31 Belleville, 7:30 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 6 Waterloo, 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Feb. 11 NEW GLARUS, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 14 CAMBRIDGE, 7:30 p.m.
Tues., Feb. 18 OREGON, 7:30 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 20 Wis. Heights, 7:30 p.m.