After falling to the Longview Lobos on the road in a 61-42 final, Marshall’s basketball team is off to a 2-1 start. Head basketball coach Bobby Carson is optimistic and hopes the non-district games will prepare the Mavericks for district play.

“It’s going to be a real tough district,” Carson said. “Lufkin has so many kids back, including the district MVP. Nacogdoches has their 6-8 kid back and he was the district’s offensive MVP. They’re going to be truly good. They’re a force to be reckoned with. John Tyler is always competitive. Hallsville is always very well coached. Pine Tree has a new coach but they’ve got some good players back and last year J.J. Sparkman was a first-team all-district selection. Jacksonville has the district’s newcomer of the year coming back. Whitehouse has a bunch of kids coming back also, so it should be a dogfight. Nobody ran the table last year and I don’t think anybody is going to be able to run it this year.

“I think we have a pretty tough non-district schedule,” the coach added. “We play everybody in this area. Then we’ll go to Van for a tournament where we should see some people we don’t normally see. We’re going to Mount Pleasant, again to see different people. Then we’ll go to Paris and I know we’ll see different people up there. Hopefully by the time Jan. 3 rolls around, we’ll be battle tested, healthy and ready to go. We’ll have Jacksonville at home to start district. There’s a lot of basketball between now and then.”

The Mavs are senior-loaded and Carson is pleased what he has seen from his senior class so far.

“I’m happy with the senior class,” he said. “Niderrick Lewis has been a great leader for us. He did a great job of leading in the preseason. He’s been the hardest worker. I can tell him, ‘Niderrick, have them do this, make sure they do that.’ He takes care of the nuts and bolts that I need somebody to do. He may be the nicest kid in the whole school and he’s a pretty good basketball player. It’s nice being able to have a team captain who’s not confrontational and gets things done. You can count on him. He’s going to be here every day. He’s going to lead 100 percent.”

Despite the fact he expects it to be anything but easy, Carson has high expectations for his Mavericks this season.

“To win every game we’re capable of winning,” he said when asked what his expectations are for the year. “I think we can be pretty good, optimistically, how good remains to be seen.

“We’ve got that chemistry thing working out. Are we going to peak at the right time, to early or too late? An injury and lots of things can happen but with the addition of Kevin Pinson and Lyrik Rawls and getting Chris Leonard eligible to play, he had to play on the JV all last year because he was a move-in, and he’s a different dimension at the point guard. We’ve got some experienced guys who have been around and this is going to be their year, I hope.

“This is Savion’s (Williams) third year on varsity. I think this is (Jaedon) Knox’s third year on varsity. Jason Tuck played some on varsity as a freshman. James Thomas played some on varsity as a freshman, so those guys have some varsity experience.

“Jack Mottershaw played some on varsity last year. He’s 6-7 and gives us a pretty intimidating factor inside. Savion is 6-5. Fred Woolen is 6-5, long kids. I’m hoping with the depth that we’ll be able to wear people out.”