Lady Tigers credit sucess to coach

WARD III HIGH SCHOOL girls’ basketball coach Genny Harris Marionneaux plots strategy with her players during a timeout against Block of Jonesville. The squad went on to win, 80-53. Pictured above were, from left, Tanya Reeves, Michelle Lee, Jennifer Jennings and Linda Ulmer. (Sun photo by Monica Huff)

Throughout their quest for a state championship the one person who held the team together and guided them on their path was head coach Genny Harris Marionneaux.

Although Marionneaux stands slightly above five feet in stature, her presence on the basketball court was gigantic. The Ward III Lady Tigers coach led her team to a record of 123-6 in the latter parts of the 1980s and a state championship in 1989.

Marionneaux led her team with loving toughness much like a cross between a mother and a drill sergeant, but the end result was a group of young ladies that loves their coach and credits their success to her.

“She was no nonsense,” said Jennifer Jennings, forward for the team. “She stood five foot and all she had to do was look at you and you knew that was it. She kept a check on us. If we were slacking she wouldn’t go to us but go to momma and daddy. Academics were very important.”

Sandy Bryan King, team member and now principal of Crowville School, said her love for her players and guidance was a positive addition to their lives.

“There was no doubt she loved us, and we love her,” King said. “She brought much into many young lady’s lives.”

King also remembered the intensity she brought to the game.

“She really got into the game,” King said. “She was so intense. You wanted to sit beside her, but at the same time she had long nails and would grab your leg and send you in.”

Members of the Lady Tigers remembered one particular way she inspired the group. When the team did good, Marionneaux would bake them peanut butter brownies.

“They were delicious,” King and several of her teammates said.

Throughout game coverage, media outlets praised Ward III’s free throw shooting. The squad also gave credit to their coach for the superior free throw percentage.

Each team member was required to shoot 20 free throws at the beginning and ending of practice. Every free throw a player missed, she would have to run two laps.

“We made sure to make those free throws,” said Tonya Reeves Holmes, point guard for the team.

But even with the occasional laps, Holmes said, “Those were some of the best times of my life.”

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