Samira Sargent and Daniella Marmol started playing girls’ basketball together in eighth grade at Herbert Hoover Middle School in Edison.
Sargent was already a prolific scorer. Marmol was in her first year playing the sport.
She picked it up because, after playing football with two older brothers growing up, she wanted “a place where I could be aggressive and not get in trouble for it,” Marmol said, laughing.
During that eighth grade season, Sargent and Marmol built a nice chemistry. Sargent drew double teams on the outside, and Marmol did the same on the inside.
They led the Edison middle school to the Greater Middlesex Conference championship, losing to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, an Edison district rival.
Four years later, Sargent and Marmol are repeating history. The duo is leading Edison High School to a memorable season.
With Sargent drawing double teams on the outside and Marmol doing the same on the inside, the Eagles are 16-5 and in a pole position to make runs in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament and in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 Tournament.
“This is the first year we’ll have a home game (in the state sectional tournament),” said Edison coach Frank Eckert. “I’m hoping to open with a win and go from there.”
“I think we can continue doing what we’re doing,” Sargent added. “We’re unselfish. We pass even when we have open shots.”
Sargent is 29 points away from breaking Edison’s program scoring record. Tierra Johnson, a 2012 Edison graduate, holds the record with 1,462 career points.
But Sargent is not focused on the mark. She only cares about playing her new role: point guard.
The senior was a shooting guard for most of her career, but Eckert switched her to point last winter. Since Sargent’s burst always drew multiple defenders, Eckert wanted to maximize her ability to find open teammates.
“One of her greatest assets is that she’s so unselfish,” Eckert said. “She knows she’s near the scoring record but she still passes.”
Sargent often passes to her long-time running mate, Marmol, in the paint. Then, defenders converge on the 5-11 forward. Once they do, Marmol makes the extra pass to an open teammate.
The dynamic works because Sargent and Marmol are surrounded by capable scorers. Their teammates have made opponents pay for doubling Edison’s two best options.
Lourdes Marasigan (24 three pointers) and Latayjah Jenkins (21) have drilled more than 20 three pointers. Kenisha Chester, Angela Consolazio and Ciana McQuiller all score more than four points per game.
“A lot of girls get open looks from Samira’s pure presence,” Eckert said. “Daniella is another weapon who creates looks because you really have to concentrate on her inside.”
Sargent and Marmol both plan on playing collegiate basketball, but likely at different schools.
Kean University in Union has been trying hard to land Sargent. Another Division 3 program, Manhattanville College, in Purchase, N.Y., is actively pursuing Marmol.
For the two old friends, this winter may be their last ride together. They are hoping to go out “with a banner,” Marmol said.
The duo has not yet led the Eagles to a championship.
Edison lost to Piscataway High School, 51-37, in the 2018 GMC final. It fell to Westfield High School, 55-51, in the 2017 North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 quarterfinals, which was Edison’s deepest state sectional run in the last four years.
“Each year we got so close. We hope this is our year,” Marmol said. “We have to play as a unit.”
“I think we can win,” Sargent said. “We’ve been playing really well against good teams, working hard in practice and learning from mistakes.”