Dec. 1, 2004 - The Marana High School girls basketball team will get an early-season challenge as the Tigers begin its defense of its 2003-04 Sonoran Region title.
In just its second game of the young season, Marana (20-12 last year) will host Catalina Foothills Dec. 2.
This year's Marana squad will have a Jekyl and Hyde look to it. Returning for the Tigers is an experienced core of starters led by Erin Parsons and Whitney Lewis. The dominating duo of seniors make Marana an early season favorite to repeat as 4A Sonoran Region Champs and advance past the quarter finals of the state tournament.
Last year, Thunderbird bounced the Tigers from the 4A state tourney in the quarterfinals 47-40.
Parsons and Lewis give Marana head coach Corey Duck two solid options on offense who can use their size in the post-position or their shooting ability to put the ball in the hoop.
"Everybody hopes to have one player like them," said Duck of Parsons and Lewis, "We are fortunate to have two who choose to be better and push each other to be better."
As commanding as the Tigers will be behind the 5-foot, 11-inch Lewis and 6-foot, 1-inch Parsons, Marana will need strong play from an inexperienced bench if it wants to survive a tough schedule.
"It creates a dual job," said Duck of the mixture of an experienced starting five with a novice bench. "We'll have to multi-task within the game."
If the bench, consisting of a junior, two sophomores and three freshmen, needs any inspiration, it need not look any further than its own gym.
"They'll be playing against and seeing what they need to see at every practice," said Duck of the influence and work ethic Lewis and Parsons bring to the program every day.
When Ma-rana tips off against Cat-alina Foothills, the Falcons will have a not-so-secret weapon of its own. Senior guard Kate Engelbrecht isn't just the team's best player; she is Catalina Foothills basketball.
"As she goes, so does Catalina Foothills," said Duck of Engelbrecht.
Engelbrecht has already committed to take her skills to the hardwood of Arizona State University next year. In the last three seasons she has led the Falcons in scoring (15.0), rebounding (7.0), assists (6.0), steals (5.0), blocks (2.0) and shooting percentage (62 percent) and was named the team's most valuable player in each of those three seasons.
With Engelbrecht at the helm of the offense, Catalina Foothills has won the 4A Kino Region three years running.
Tip off at Marana High School, 12000 W. Emigh Road, will be at 7 p.m.