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Jason Marlett is looking for leadership from this year’s Laurens Academy girls’ basketball team. Over the past four years, during which time the Crusaders have won three upstate and two state champions, they’ve graduated a lot of it.

We have graduated very strong leaders out of our program for the past two seasons,” Marlett said. ‘We are looking to see who will emerge in leadership roles as we move through the season based on work ethic, team standards and improvement. Without a summer to compete or do much as a team, we will see this play out during the season.”

Two SCISA all-state players, guard Reagan Williamson and wing Blair Quarles, have graduated. Williamson, a 4-year starter, is now working with the team as an assistant coach. Quarles is now playing at Erskine College. Laurens Academy finished the season with a playoff berth and a 19-7 record.

In each of the past three years, Laurens Academy has graduated key players and team leaders. Expected to step forward this year are three returning starters: junior forward Payton Breen, freshman guard Olivia Huck and freshman guard Rylee Ballard.

Conference competition will be intense.

We are looking to work hard on fundamentals and try to improve, practice to practice and each week,” Marlett said. “Our goal will be to improve to the point that we are competitive within our region schedule as we will have very strong region competition this year that is laden with experienced upperclassman players.

Newberry Academy will be favored to not only win our region this year, but also the state championship. Richard Winn Academy also returns numerous senior starters, including a recent Newberry College signee. I also expect Cambridge Academy and Wardlaw Academy to be very strong and athletic. We will have one of, if not the most talented region in the state, to compete against night in and night out. Facing this competition night will give us the opportunity to improve individually and as a team.”

Huck was named to High School Sports Report’s list of up and coming players. She earned all-region and all-county recognition. Breen was all-county, as well. Ballard, Marlett said, “has improved her skills and gives constant effort on both ends of the floor.”

Marlett has built a winning attitude that should help a young team slog its way through a tough schedule.

We look to see how they compete during the season and what their offseason development produces,” Marlett said.