Kendal Marlowe to keep playing in the Valley

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News

There’s no doubt what Kendal Marlowe is there to do when she steps into a gym.

“To use a young person’s slang term, the first time I saw her I knew she was a ‘baller,’” Warlassies basketball head coach Aaron Fernandez said. “She is always ready to play.”

That’s exactly what fans of the women’s basketball program at Montreat College want to hear. The Owen senior committed to continue her career there May 4.

Marlowe, a Blue-White All-Star selection earlier this year, joined the Warlassies as a sophomore after attending Erwin during the 2014-15 school year.

Owen High School athletic director Anthony Lee introduces senior Kendal Marlowe as she prepares to sign a letter of intent to play basketball at Montreat College on May 4.

“I’m really glad I made the move to Owen,” Marlowe said moments after signing a letter of intent, watched by her parents Scott and Missy Marlowe. “I remember I was nervous at first, but the way it’s paid off and the friends I’ve made along the way made it worth it.”

The Warlassies were 8-14 the season before Marlowe arrived. The athletic guard joined a talented young roster under former head coach Tim Raines. She helped Owen to a 19-10 record and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs in 2015-16. Marlowe averaged 9.5 points per game that season and dished out 3.6 assists per contest as well.

Marlowe, who played in 81 games during her career at Owen, was even better as a junior. She averaged 12 points per game in the 2016-17 season while leading the team in assists (3.8 per game). She also pulled down 67 rebounds and led the team with 37 steals that year.

“She also did a lot of things that don’t show up on a stat sheet,” said Fernandez, who took over the program prior to this season. “She did so many basketball-savvy things on the floor night in and night out that helped us win.”

Tim Lewis was named head coach of the Montreat College Cavaliers in April. Lewis, a legendary player at Montreat where his jersey number is retired, said he quickly learned that “we have some talent right here in our backyard.”

Assistant coach Dasha Sharova made the short drive to Owen to watch Marlowe play.

“I remember that game,” Marlowe said. “I was really upset because we lost to Mountain Heritage, and that was a tough game to lose.”

However, Marlowe’s effort was what stood out to Sharova.

“She’s a hard worker,” Sharova said of Marlowe. “Her effort makes her stand out on the court.”

Kendal Marlowe drives to the basket against a pair of Mitchell defenders during her final regular season home game as a member of the Warlassies. The Owen senior will play basketball for Montreat College after graduation.

Marlowe, who mostly played point guard during her career at Owen, “really understands the game,” according to Fernandez.

“She’s a very steady presence on the court, in terms of doing what needs to be done as far as the system is concerned,” he said. “She always does what needs to be done.”

That kind of presence will be valuable as Lewis hopes to a establish a new culture at Montreat, where the women’s team went 7-22 last season.

Marlowe is "bright and works hard, and those are the kinds of players we want as we build our program,” Lewis said.

Marlowe will also bring a fun personality to her new team too, Fernandez said.

“When she plays, you don’t see it as much because she’s so focused," he said. “But behind the scenes she loves joking with her teammates and keeping the atmosphere light.”

That’s a sharp contrast to how she goes about her business on the court, Sharova said.

“She’s like a little shark out there,” she said. “The way she attacks the basket, goes after loose balls and even grabs rebounds shows how physical she can be.”

Marlowe is happy to continue her basketball career close to home, she said.

“I love Black Mountain,” she said. “I’m glad I don’t have to be far away.”