Senior McKenzie Lathrom will be the centerpiece of the Mark Twain girls basketball team that recorded 11 wins each of the past three seasons.
McKenzie Lathrom doesn't enter her senior season hoping to become the most decorated scorer in the history of the Mark Twain girls basketball program.
The University of Missouri-St. Louis signee already is.
With one final winter to lead the Lady Tigers, Lathrom will be the centerpiece of coach Alex Brandenburg's squad that recorded 11 wins each of the past three seasons.
“When you have a player like McKenzie on your roster, you have to set it up so you're putting her in a spot to succeed and know she's a special enough talent that she's going to make everybody around her better,” Brandenburg said. “A lot of people know she's our leading scoring in our school history already, but she also leads the school in assists in her career.
“She's not just a scorer, but she passes the ball well, she rebounds, she makes us go.”
Lathrom averaged 20 points, five rebounds and four assists last season to help Mark Twain to an 11-15 finish. Now the senior star hopes to lead the Lady Tigers over .500 for the first time in her high school career.
Joining Lathrom on the quest are returning starters Mackenzie Ogle and Paige Eddington. Ogle averaged six points and three rebounds as a freshman a year ago, while Eddington came into her own as a post presence.
“Paige and Kenzie, they're definitely always ready for me to dish it out when I'm in trouble, and we've got some shooters on the outside,” Lathrom said. “We don't really have a lot of height, so we're going to have to push the ball.”
Lynsie Boling, Amber Ferry and Alyssa Ferry round out Mark Twain's senior class and figure to get significant minutes.
“They do a lot of little things that maybe don't show up in the box score but they contribute a lot to our team,” Brandenburg said.
Five freshmen come into the fold for the Lady Tigers this season, accounting for almost half the 11-player program. The newcomers — Elizabeth Trower, Alyssa Ford, Sydnee Brothers, Emma Ross and Zoe Miller — will be given every opportunity to make an impact.
“They're coming in as a good nucleus and the future looks really bright for Mark Twain basketball because those girls are hard-working, they're students of the game and they're getting better,” Brandenburg said.
Ogle mentioned she hopes to take the freshman class under her wing because she's just one year removed from being in their position.
“I was the only freshman last year and it was a lot to take in all at once, but this year I'm feeling good,” the sophomore said. “Now I can help them out because I understand what it's like.”
It's this type of team-first attitude that makes Eddington think her squad can do something special this season.
“We bond a lot and I think it's going to help because we're really close on and off the court and like to talk,” the junior said.
The Lady Tigers lineup is subject to change on a nightly basis as Brandenburg pieces together the formula he's most comfortable to go to battle with in the Eastern Missouri Conference.
“Depending on who we play it could be different starters, but with the group of players we have we're pretty well-balanced, which is great because we can start whoever we need to do with our matchups we've got,” he said.
After finishing in the top half of the EMO the past three seasons, Mark Twain wants to take a step forward.
“We're hoping we can jump higher and be a little closer to the top this time,” Brandenburg said. “We're trying to make the next day our best practice of the year, and we're also going to work game-to-game and hopefully put ourselves in a spot where we can be successful and win some games.”