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Northern Tier Sports Report
It’s the start of a new era for Troy girls’ basketball as they welcome coach Marshall McNeal.

McNeal returns after being an assistant coach alongside former head coach Carol Lane, the Godmother of girls’ sports at Troy, several decades ago.

“We just want to keep improving every game,” said McNeal. “I hope we can do well, to succeed as best we can.”

It’s quite a year for a new coach as the Covid-19 Pandemic makes for heavy uncertainty. Regardless, the girls are just happy to be on the court.

“I’m really excited that we’re able to have (a season) with Covid,” said senior Olivia Call. “Everything’s new this year, so it’s kind of strange, but it’s exciting. Everything’s exciting.”

One big positive is their numbers are up from last year, going from eight players to over a dozen.

“It’s awesome,” said Call. “We are so happy we have more girls who want to play, and who are excited to play.”

They also return their top two scorers from a year ago - Sydney Taylor (10.4 points per game) and Hannah Zimmerman (5.5 ppg).

Zimmerman is now one of the two seniors, alongside Call, on the team, and is looking to take a leadership role this year.

“I want to be a better leader, and work together as a team more,” she said. “I’ve worked more on how I lead, how I talk, more on my skills and drills and stuff. We need to get all on the same page to build up the program again.”

With everything working against them this year McNeal just wants to keep things simple.

“We just work on the fundamentals, play good defense and keep working hard,” he said. “Attitude, preparing and, hopefully, executing.”

McNeal noted some of the hurdles they have early this season.

“Out of our first five games, four are on the road,” he said. “No fans and on the road - the schedule makes it tough. The girls are also starting out with a new coach, fewer practices - usually we get 15, now we get 10 - no scrimmages and start with four games on the road. It’s difficult.”

The girls, though, are upbeat as new faces have brought more enthusiasm.

“We can have more breaks,” said Zimmerman about having a deeper bench. “We can see how other people play. It pushes us to be better.”

“We want to win more games than we have in the past,” Call said. 

They also have to overcome their recent past, which is something McNeal is focusing on.

“I’m trying to get them to believe in themselves,” he said. “When you win seven games in the last three years, you have to get them to believe in themselves and that they can win.”

And, while the girls would like to get more W’s next to their games, McNeal is taking a more measured approach.

“Winning doesn’t just mean most points,” he said. “Winning means performing and competing - that’s my opinion. Right now the girls’ attitudes are good, they’re positive and they’re working hard.”

They know far they have to go to get their goals but the girls aren’t afraid to do what it takes to get there.

“It’s been stressful, but we have to work hard to get going now,” said Zimmerman.

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