FORT WAYNE – She comes at you in flashes, like a flicker of lightning that leaves you unsure you actually saw it. One instant Darby Maggard is just a precocious high school guard with a soft touch and a Masterlock dribble, and the next whoa. Did you see that?
And so here she was last March, pushing the ball up for Canterbury in the Class A state championship game.
And here was a teammate at the other end of the floor, breaking for the basket.
And suddenly the lightning flickered.
Maggard looked up. Ripped a three-quarter-court bounce pass, on a diagonal, through a welter of bodies. Hit her breaking teammate right in the hands with it, in stride, for no doubt the easiest layup that teammate would ever see outside of her own driveway.
Do you remember the first time someone pointed at you and said, You know, shes pretty good? Maggard is asked now, four days away from Canterburys fifth trip to the state finals in six years, and Maggards second in as many high school seasons.
Her brow furrows. She laughs, a trifle uncertainly.
I dont know, she replies. I dont think Ive ever really thought about that, actually.
Her coach does. Wayne Kreigers been looking at basketball players for 34 years now – hes won 544 games as a head coach, mostly at Columbia City but now at Canterbury – and he knows quality when he sees it, knows when someone has that certain indefinable it. Shes well beyond her years in terms of her skill level, he says. But shes worked at that. Shes an intelligent player, shes an outstanding ballhandler, she shoots the ball extremely well, and she understands the game. She wants to be a coach, and so shes a sponge.
She wants to be good at what she does. And shes willing to work for it.
Not to mention commute for it. Maggard has a 45-minute one-way commute from her home in Larwill every day, which means shes generally up by 6:30 a.m. Its a deal, she tells you, that her brother got her into.
He is extremely smart, and my mom and dad wanted to make the move for him, Maggard says. So I came along with him.
What Canterbury got in her was a hoops junkie whod been hanging around gyms with her mom, a coach at Whitko for 10 years, since she was about 2 feet tall, according to Maggard. Now, with AAU ball in the summer and high school in the winter, her world is pretty much floor-to-ceiling hoops.
Not a problem for a kid who played volleyball and softball in middle school, but who always knew basketball was it.
Its great, says Maggard, who thinks she got her first letter from a college when she was in seventh grade. I love basketball. I love to do it. I do it every day.
She laughs again. This time, theres not a trace of uncertainty in it.