BYRON — Byron junior forward/guard Sarah Marvin prefers to talk about her team rather than herself.
Theresa Marvin — her mother and head coach — said she even took that mindset to the point of asking not to be told how close she was getting to 1,000 career points as the postseason was in full swing.
“She’s not the kind of kid who even cares about or asks about her own stats,” Theresa Marvin said. “She even asked to not do a countdown and not make a big deal out of it because she knew it would be during the playoffs and she didn’t want it to distract in anyway from the team.”
There’s no denying, however, the Byron junior guard/forward — now sitting at 989 points, by the way — is one of the area’s best players. She led the area in scoring and rebounding this season and has repeated as Argus-Press All-Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
She led the Eagles in seven statistical categories — averaging a double-double with 18.3 points per game and 13.1 rebounds a night. Her other stats — 5.8 assists, 3.2 steals, 1.0 blocks and 87% from the free-throw line (113 of 129) — weren’t too shabby, either.
“She kind of played all positions — wherever we needed her,” Theresa Marvin said. “Offensively, a lot of times she is the point guard. And then sometimes, depending on what’s best for the team and the particular game, she’d play the post or the wing … But I think her free-throw percentage was just phenomenal. I think that was huge for the team and I think just her ability to do so many different things — it makes us really tough as a team.”
Marvin works especially hard on her free throws, usually spending time after practice to get a few extra reps in.
“We make it — and I make it — a big habit to shoot a lot of free throws during practice and just to stay after, maybe 10 minutes to shoot extra free throws and especially towards the end of the season — just because free throws are so huge,” Sarah Marvin said. “And I think that definitely helped.”
That work ethic has shown through, Theresa Marvin said.
“She spends a ton of time outside of practice shooting free throws,” Theresa Marvin said. “Shooting on the shooting machine in the fall and in the summer, even though she might not be playing full time on a travel team. She’s putting in hours and hours, working on her game. She watches a ton of videos.”
Byron (23-1) won its first outright league championship in 30 years and first-ever district crown this season. What separated this year’s team from past versions was good chemistry, Sarah Marvin said.
“I think the huge thing was in the offseason when we practiced and even during the season, we just all worked together so well,” she said. “And we all pushed each other — and that makes anyone get better. I think that’s huge, just to have a really great team.”
Theresa Marvin said her daughter spent the summer offseason at a point guard college grad school in Ohio, spending a week studying the game and learning how to read defenses. That helped her develop into a first-class passer.
“When you watch her play, I think that’s one of the things that does stand out. She sees the court,” Theresa Marvin said. “Sometimes we’ll be sitting on the bench as a coaching staff and she throws this pass and we don’t even see it. And then she makes the pass and we’re like, ‘How did she do that?’”
Byron’s season may have ended on a win — a 58-21 first-round regional victory March 10 over Bronson at Brooklyn Columbia Central. The Eagles were set to play Michigan Center (20-3) in the regional finals March 12 when the MHSAA indefinitely suspended the winter postseason due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The winter basketball postseason — along with any school activities, including spring sports — is on hold until at least April 13. Several area coaches have expressed doubt it will ever be finished, leaving Sarah Marvin, her teammates and hundreds of other high school athletes without closure.
Questions will linger as the years go by if the opportunity to complete the season isn’t granted.
“In other circumstances, ending the season on a win would put you with a state championship, but I think this is the only scenario that teams don’t want to end on a win,” Sarah Marvin said. “It’s nice to be able to, but at the same time you would have wanted to be able to finish your season and know where you would have been instead of leaving it to what-if.”
Still, the junior said she is thankful what the team accomplished. The Eagles went unbeaten in the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference, capped by a 57-25 win at New Lothrop.
Byron had won three straight league championships previously, but all had been shared with another team. The program’s last outright league crown was the 1990 Mid-State Athletic Conference championship — when Theresa Marvin was a senior captain.
“We shared (the MMAC) with New Lothrop last year and with Morrice (GAC Blue Division) my freshman year, so we really just wanted to win a league title outright,” Sarah Marvin said. “And we were able to do that. So when we beat Chesaning the second time (38-32 in overtime at Byron) — that didn’t exactly give it to us but it pretty much did. That was huge — even though we didn’t play our best that night.”
The Eagles went on to win their first district championship with a 49-29 victory over Laingsburg at Dansville.
“We knew this year was the year we could do it,” Marvin said. “And when we were finally able to do that, it was just unbelievable.”
GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM
Player of the Year
Sarah Marvin, Byron
The 5-foot-9 junior guard/forward repeated as All-Area Player of the Year by leading Byron to its first district title and its first outright league title in 30 years. Marvin topped the Eagles in seven statistical categories and averaged a double-double (18.3 points, 13.1 rebounds). She had 17 double-doubles overall and two triple-doubles. She had 438 points and 314 boards.
Marvin is fifth person to win Player of the Year more than once, following Durand’s Cierra Cole (2017, 2018); Corunna’s Payton Birchmeier (2012, 2013, 2014); New Lothrop’s Ashley Wending (2004, 2005); and Owosso’s Valerie Smith (1999, 2001). She has the rare opportunity as a senior to be a four-time first-team All-Area pick.
Alyssa Welsh, Perry
The senior guard scored 410 points (19.5 average) and led the area in 3-pointers with 65. She finished her career with 1,251 points and 199 career 3-pointers. Welsh also averaged 5.1 rebounds per game for the 10-11 Ramblers. Welsh crossed the 1,000-point plateau Jan. 10 against Vermontville Maple Valley and finished as the area’s seventh all-time leading scorer. She is a four-time All-Area player, earning three first-team selections and one second team.
Brooke Wenzlick, New Lothrop
Wenzlick, a junior guard, carried the Hornets’ scoring load by averaging 18.7 points — including 21.6 points per game in MMAC play. She added 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.5 steals. Wenzlick shot 74 percent from the free-throw line (112 of 150) and is 98 points away from 1,000 for her career. It’s her third All-Area selection and second first-team honor.
Makayla Clement, Byron
The junior guard/forward led Byron in field goal percentage (54.3%, 144-for-265). Clement averaged 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.7 steals. Clement also drained 31 3-pointers and was a unanimous first-team all-MMAC player. Clement finished with 360 points this season and is 201 shy of 1,000 for her career. Clement earned her third All-Area selection, previously placing on the second team and honorable mention.
Lauren Barton, Ovid-Elsie
Barton, a 6-foot senior center, averaged 13.0 points and 8.0 rebounds for the 15-7 Marauders. She led the team in four other categories including steals (2.2), assists (2.0), blocked shots (1.0) and field goal percentage (48.9 percent). Barton finished with 288 points and 175 rebounds. She earned first-team honors after second-team selections in 2018 and 2019.
Ellie Toney, Corunna
The 6-foot sophomore forward led Corunna in points (357) rebounds (179), blocks (27) free throws made (75) and free throw percentage (72.8 percent). Toney averaged 17.9 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, adding 2.6 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.4 blocks. A first-team all-Flint Metro League all-star, Toney ended the season 401 points shy of 1,000 for her career.
Kara Mahoney, Laingsburg
The senior guard/forward scored a team-high 13 points per game while sinking 37 3-pointers. Mahoney also grabbed five rebounds per game, adding 3.0 assists and 3.0 steals.
Sidnee Struck, Chesaning
The 6-foot senior center helped Chesaning to a 19-5 record and its first district title in 11 years. Struck led the Indians in points (7.8), rebounds (7.8) and assists (3.5). A first-team all-MMAC selection, she added 1.5 blocks and 2.0 steals a game.
Gracie Nowak, Morrice
Nowak, a senior point guard, had 140 steals (7.0 per game) to lead the area. She scored 8.0 points per game adding 5.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and shooting 47.2% from the floor. Nowak was named a first-team selection in the Genesee Area Conference. Nowak helped the Orioles post a 14-6 overall record and a 12-2 GAC mark.
Sydney Gillett, Corunna
As a freshman, Gillett was a first-team all-Flint Metro selection after averaging 10.5 points per game with 38 3-pointers. The point guard led the Cavaliers in 3-pointers, assists (2.9) and steals (2.2). She shot 71.4 percent from the free-throw line (40 of 56).
Grace Graham, Laingsburg
The junior guard recorded 136 steals (5.9 per game). Graham averaged 12 points, six rebounds and two assists for the 15-8 Wolfpack.
Caitlyn Walter, Ovid-Elsie
Olivia Riley, Morrice
Jenna Smith, Morrice
Haylei Drope, Chesaning
Karissa Ferry, Chesaning
Jordyn Lawrence, Durand
Reyn Tuttle, Owosso
Lorna Strieff, Laingsburg
Raegan Forgie, Byron
Katie Kiger, Perry