Now Kayla Marosites and Kelci Marosites are once again doing what they do best: playing key roles in helping their team win games.
Carson-Newman boasts a record of 16-1 and a ranking of No. 4 in the nation in NCAA Division II. That ranking may slip after Saturday’s fourth-quarter meltdown against Wingate, where the Lady Eagles were outscored 33-10 in a 68-54 loss — their first of the season despite 22 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and a block from Kayla.
The twins have proven to be a nice fit for a team already boasting standouts like Mika Wester, Haris Price, and Briana Smith. Kayla and Kelci played against Gatlinburg-Pittman’s Price in the Class AA sectional in 2015, and took on Martin Luther King’s Smith in the state semifinals that same season.
Coming off a 12-point, 17-rebound effort in Wednesday’s win over Tusculum, Kayla is averaging a double-double on the season and leads the team in minutes played. Kelci is averaging eight points per game off the bench, and is one of the Lady Eagles’ top 3-point weapons.
The numbers are more in line with their high school success story, where they helped Elizabethton rack up a record of 124-10 over four years. The Lady Cyclones reached the state semifinals three times and won the Class AA state championship in 2014.
Kayla was a two-time Miss Basketball while Kelci produced double-digit scoring and lock-down defense throughout her career. Their resumes helped both of them land a Division I deal with East Tennessee State University.
However, things didn’t go too well with the Buccaneers last season. Neither player saw much game action as they both averaged six minutes per contest. Kayla struggled with her shooting, making only five of 35 attempts from 3-point land, but had a pair of eight-point performances. Things went a little better for Kelci, who shot 38 percent from behind the arc and had standout performances against Western Carolina (18 points) and Wofford (11 points).
Kelci said the twins just took the ETSU experience in stride.
“I think it was a step on the path of life,” said Kelci. “I think there were some lessons learned. I don’t regret going there or anything like that. I had good practices and a couple of good games. Any time I got down on myself, I would think about those games and what I was capable of doing.”
Kayla said she simply kept working on her game.
“I just kept shooting, going to the gym, and I told myself to do the best I could and everything would be all right,” said Kayla.
Kelci and Kayla both said leaving ETSU wasn’t necessarily an easy decision, but the Carson-Newman opportunity seemed to fall right into place.
“We just thought it was a better fit for us to go somewhere else and play more,” said Kayla. “We liked the community better at Carson-Newman, and I guess we felt like we would be happier. It was a really easy transition, way more easy than I thought it would be.”
Kelci said one of the most difficult parts of the decision was moving away from home.
“Being so close to home, we were able to see our family more,” said Kelci. “They were able to come to every home game. They’ve only been able to come to one at Carson-Newman as a family, but I still think it was the right decision.”
The numbers certainly support the decision. Kayla is averaging 11.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game while Kelci has scored 7.4 points per contest and is second on the team with 26 3-pointers made.
Kayla’s impressive rebounding total shouldn’t be a surprise. Rebounding has been a constant for her, and she said it gave her confidence she could play well with the Lady Eagles.
“I didn’t know how I would do in the beginning, starting over with a new team,” said Kayla. “But I was still confident in myself, and I focused on rebounding because that’s one thing I know I can do really well. And having a really good coach and teammates supporting me helped a lot.”
The twins aren’t in Division I basketball anymore, but they haven’t lost touch with the spotlight. Carson-Newman opened the season with an exhibition contest against the Lady Vols. Tennessee played its top players throughout the game and led only 52-42 at halftime before blowing out to a 121-76 victory. Kayla had four points in 16 minutes and Kelci had six in nine minutes.
It was a memorable experience at Thompson-Boling Arena.
“It was surreal,” said Kelci. “Growing up I was always a fan of the Lady Vols. Just to be on the court and playing against them was one of my dreams. It was fun because we kept it pretty close until the second half.”
Said Kayla, “It was really cool playing against their players. I’m glad we got that type of experience.”
Looking forward, the twins have never been ones to shy away from the biggest goals. This year they have their sights set on a national title.
“We’re focused on chasing Ashland,” said Kelci of the No. 1-ranked, undefeated, defending national champion.
To reach that goal, Carson-Newman must advance to the national tournament and win six games at that level.
As they continue their basketball journey, the twins said they are enjoying college life on the close-knit Baptist campus.
“It really is a great atmosphere,” said Kayla. “Everybody is really nice and everybody talks to each other. If you need help, they do what they can to help you.”
One of the results is what Kayla called “lifetime friends.”
“It’s awesome because we get to have lifetime friends again,” said Kayla. “We still talk to our high school teammates, and we recently went and watched Emily (Schubert) play at Duke.”
As for academic life, Kayla is majoring in child and family studies and plans to be a speech pathologist. Kelci recently switched from human services to psychology with a minor in pre-med. She said she wants to be a psychiatrist.