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Falcons eager to get back to state finals

KENTWOOD, Mich. -- Falling short in the Class A State Title last season is something that the East Kentwood girls basketball team does not want to repeat.

Coach Jimmy Carter said Corinne Jemison made a promise after that game last season. "She guaranteed we would not feel that way next year, so I'm holding her to her word, and she's been playing like a monster."

Jemison and the rest of the five players who started last year have returned this season and are hungry for more.

"We`re really hungry to get into the season, get started and just win," said Taia Smith. "Last season taught us that we just got to learn how to pace ourselves. It was a learning experience, and I think that experience is gonna help us go all the way this year."

And with experience comes a new leadership role for returning point guard Mauriya Barnes.

"She's learning how to take over running an offense, and she's doing a much better job than she did last year," Carter added. He said he's "turning the reigns over to her a little bit more and letting her call some plays and stuff like that."

Mauriya is ready to play the part. "At first it was kind of more stressful, but now I like that role and like being able to have more control. It feels like he's counting on me a lot and I like it. Some people don't want to step up, and I'm happy to step up."

Despite their deep and experienced team, the Falcons know they have to earn their spot in the state finals this year.

"I think we shouldn't underestimate other people, because we kind of underestimated Flushing, and we came short," Alona Blackwell said. "So, I think this year we have to be ready for anyone. It doesn't matter what team it is, we just have to have teamwork and work together."

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