The Athens Review
Mabank Panther’s first-year head coach Tracy Carter is looking to take his second team to the regional tournament later this week.
Carter made it to the tournament in his final two seasons at Athens High School.
With a win over Texarkana Pleasant Grove tonight, this would be the first trip to the regional tournament since the 1999-2000 season.
“I know that looking at last year’s team and looking at this year’s team we were going to have to replace about 70 percent of our scoring,” Carter said. “I knew that would be a challenge and the time of maturation growth would be a process.”
Senior’s David Marler and Landon Marshall have been top players for the Panthers this season.
Marler said for Mabank to make the regional tournament, their focus will be on 6-8 senior post Dustin Thomas.
“We are going to go out there and try and stop their big guy,” Marler said. “That is really all they got on the film that we watched. We have to play good defense like we have during the playoffs.”
Carter said Marler and 6-7 sophomore post Dalton Burleson will get the matchup with Thomas throughout the game.
“David is the focal point of our offense and he is going to have to be on his game for us to have success,” Carter said. “We have a sophomore kid (Burleson) that is really coming on and might be able to help us with their big kid.”
Marshall said making it into the third round is something the community has been waiting to see.
“We are really excited to have this opportunity because it is something that the community or this school has not seen in a long time,” Marshall said. “The school spirit has really picked up and it has been exciting to see. If we want it bad enough, I believe we can get it without a doubt.”
Both players said learning from Coach Carter has made them better athletes this season.
“We all appreciate what Coach Carter has done for us,” Marshall said. “He puts in so much extra time and so much extra energy and he has been a great leader and example for us.”
Marler: “We are more of a team and fundamentally we are better as well. We are now an all-around better team under coach Carter.”
Carter said have seven seniors on the team this season has been a pleasure for him to coach and he hopes the Panthers’ will have three more games left this season.
“The kids are very coachable and work very hard and I think we have made great strides,” Carter said. “The kids are a tight knit group and they love the game.”