Canterbury point guard Darby Maggard never flinches.She doesn't waver if the opposing team has stacked its defense to smother her or if the opposing fans are chanting unfriendly things or if people question why she picked Belmont University when bigger, better-known colleges would welcome her aboard.
Maggard is the rare high school basketball player who has not only found her focus, but maintains it under almost every circumstance.
“My mom always taught me you can control yourself – that's the only person you can control,” Maggard said. “And the only two things you can control are your attitude and your effort.”The word “leader” gets thrown around a lot in high school basketball, and it's often shorthand for “leading scorer,” terms that aren't always synonymous. There are few fully realized leaders in high school sports, players who can guide a team, push and pull teammates and ride through good times and bad with the same attitude. Most high school players, and teenagers in general, want to fit in. Leading requires risk. Leaders aren't always popular, with opponents or teammates.
Maggard hits the court, whether for practice or the game, with a purpose for each moment and each movement. She leads, unflinchingly.
“She just has the utmost knowledge of the game, and as far as her intensity and her passion, it's just unbelievable,” Canterbury coach Wayne Kreiger said. “She's mature beyond her years.”
Maggard will appear in her fourth state championship game when her Canterbury High School girls play Heritage Christian for the Class 2A title at 12:45 p.m. Saturday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis.
She's not yet ready to think about playing in her final game at Canterbury. The minutes afterward will be emotional, win or lose Saturday. So maybe she'd rather not let that emotion bubble to the surface yet. The truth is, she's not ready to think about it because she has work to do.
Canterbury will be the underdog against Heritage Christian, a team with more experience and more NCAA Division I-caliber players.
Canterbury's biggest asset is Maggard's ability to draw the most out of herself and her teammates.
Maggard's numbers are huge. She averages 28.6 points and 7.6 assists per game while shooting 54.2 percent from the field, 47.7 percent from three-point range and 90.3 percent from the free-throw line. Her 715 points this season set a school record and she has 2,258 career points.
There is no number to put on her leadership, although a viable argument could be made for using 93-12, the team's record during her four years, which includes two state titles (so far).
“She's an incredible leader just because she's a positive leader,” sophomore guard Mason VanHouten said. “She's always helping us to do the best we can do, always pushing us to be the best we can be.”
Maggard grew up the daughter of a coach, so some of her mindset started early. Her mother, Dee Dee, coached at Whitko. Her family decided to send Darby to Canterbury, where she first thrived under coach Scott Kreiger before he took over the Canterbury boys program and turned the girls team over to his father.
“Her mom has been awesome in terms of helping her,” Wayne Kreiger said. “Darby's a gym rat. When you're like that, you pick things up that other kids don't necessarily pick up.”
Heritage Christian coach Rick Risinger knows Maggard presents the most important defensive challenge his team faces in the title game.
“She has a very high basketball IQ,” Risinger said. “She understands the game exceptionally well, not only from her individual perspective but from the team perspective. â »She's a true point guard and that's an advantage for them.”
Maggard's sense of knowing where she's going and how to get there led her to pick Belmont in Nashville, Tenn., as her college destination.
Ask most NCAA Division I players the reason for their college choice and they'll point to the coach and the team's success and tradition and maybe the state-of-the-art facilities.
“I talked to the vice president there, Dr. (Susan) West, and we had a really nice conversation,” Maggard said. “She said, 'Darby, if you are coming to Belmont to be served, this is not the place for you. If you want to come here to learn to be a servant and have a servant heart and grow as a leader, this is the place for you.'
“The whole entire college, from academics to the basketball team, everywhere, is Christ-centered and about building you up as person," Maggard said. "It was just a good overall fit for me.”
Belmont's coach, Cameron Newbauer, is a Leo High School and IPFW alum who has coached men's and women's college basketball at various stops. He's a gym rat at heart, too.
Newbauer's resume includes working as an assistant women's coach at Louisville and Georgia, as well as working with the men's teams at Georgia and Siena.
Despite being involved in recruiting for years, Maggard will be the first player Newbauer has landed from Indiana. Some bigger schools, including Illinois, pushed to recruit her, but she stuck with Belmont.
“She's a winner, she's a natural leader, her personality, her love for others – I don't know what the word is for it, but she's got it,” Newbauer said. “She's the consummate Indiana high school point guard.”
Maggard's demonstrative nature on the court often leads to opposing players and fans reacting vocally. Student sections chant. Opposing players throw the occasional elbow. None of it knocks Maggard off her game.
“She looks at it like, 'I'm here to play basketball and that's all I care about, I don't care what you're yelling or saying. I'm playing basketball and that's all I want to do,' ” Kreiger said. “That's her. She's rock solid.”
That's leadership, with no flinching.
IHSAA Class 2A Championship
Tipoff: Canterbury vs. Heritage Christian, 12:45 p.m. Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
TV: Fox Sports Indiana Plus
Radio: ESPN 107.7-FM
Coach: Wayne Kreiger
Name Ht Yr Pos Avg
Darby Maggard 5-5 Sr. G 28.6
Ginesha Robinson 5-7 So. G 0.8
Mason VanHouten 5-7 So. G 13.6
Celeste Marshall 5-5 Sr. G 0.3
Jordan Elliott 5-7 Fr. G 1.2
Kelsey Booth 5-8 Fr. G 0.9
Sydney Hearn 5-6 Fr. F 0.7
Alexa Habig 5-7 Jr. F 6.5
Lilly Peters 5-10 Fr. F 6.6
Meredith Wojewuczki 5-6 Fr. G 0.3
Meagan Thomas 5-8 Fr. F 1.9
Claire Rorock 5-9 Jr. C 0.6
Katherine Smith 6-2 Sr. C 14.8
Coach: Rick Risinger
Name Ht Yr Pos Avg
Kaitlyn Gilbert 5-11 Fr. G 6.9
Reyna Williams 5-6 So. G 1.5
Joely Pinkston 5-7 Jr. G 3.0
Ellie Perkins 5-4 Sr. G 1.0
Hannah Williams 5-10 So. G 2.7
Peyton Fallis 5-10 Sr. G 9.3
Darby Foresman 6-3 Jr. F 8.4
Sydney Hall 5-6 Sr. G 11.8
Allison Schofield 5-10 Sr. F 7.8
Michelle Pierce 5-8 Fr. F 0.5
Tyasha Harris 5-11 Jr. G 17.4
Taylor Hall 5-11 Jr. F 5.5