Marian's seniors a tad underrated, not unnoticed by coach Cicerone or college recruitersBasketball  |
Birmingham – The talent level for the defending Class A state champion Birmingham Marian basketball team is so bountiful that players Nos. 3-5 are destined to play at the college level and would almost certainly be stars in other programs.
Bailey and Samantha Thomas, the Mustangs’ high-profile sister tandem, headline the marquee. They’re both heavily-touted Division I college recruits. Bailey, a junior point guard, is committed to West Virginia. Samantha, an athletic post player, is one of the state’s top sophomores.
Equally important to the potent Marian attack (19-1, No. 1 in the state entering the state tournament) is the senior trio of Kara Holinski, Brittany Gray and Jaeda Robinson. All three started on last year’s state title team.
“Those ladies are just tremendous,” said longtime Marian coach Mary Cicerone of her senior starters. “There are no egos with them, on or off the floor. They set the tempo for us with their leadership, sacrifice and commitment.”
Holinski, the captain and a straight-A student, is going to play at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She made the game-winning 12-footer in Marian’s 50-49 win over previously-undefeated Detroit King in Operation Friendship Thursday in route to 16 points on the night.
Cicerone calls Holinski probably the most-effective team captain in her three-decade plus tenure at the school.
“She’s our glue,” Cicerone said. "I don't know if I've ever had a better leader."
According to Cicerone, Holinski is also her squad’s most dangerous shooter and rugged defender. Playing on the wing, Holinski is long, active and possesses a soft touch from the perimeter.
“I want to play team basketball,” Holinski said. “If it’s my night to score and take the responsibility offensively then that’s what I do. If I need to concentrate on defense and defer to my teammates, I’ll do that, too. We don’t care who gets the credit or the accolades, we’re sisters out there. We play and compete for each other. That’s all that matters.”
Gray plays on the wing and inside, and is the team’s leading scorer. Against King, Gray had 15 points. Next year, she’ll be playing at Hillsdale.
When she graduates in June, Gray, a multi-sport athlete including playing forward on Marian’s state-power soccer team in the spring, will depart for the college ranks with an athletic department-best 13 varsity letters.
“We’re an unselfish group,” Gray said. “Our mentality is on any given night whoever has the hot hand gets the ball. We try not to get hung up with stats. I think that’s what makes us as consistent as we’ve been and that consistency has been the key to this whole run this year so far.”
Robinson, a pesky off-guard, often gets lost in the shuffle, but not with the college recruiters. She signed with Central Michigan.
Robinson’s amount of shot attempts isn’t central on her mind right now. Instead, it’s bagging the program’s first-ever repeat state crown.
“We want to make history, we want to win two in a row,” Robinson said. “You do something like that nobody remembers if individually you were scoring two a game or 20, all they remember is that you were a part of something that no team had ever done before.”Tweet