At 6 feet 4 inches tall, Mallory McGwire stands out on a basketball floor.
As the only sophomore in a senior-dominated starting lineup, the Reno High post had no trouble fitting in and helping her team succeed.
McGwire, a major reason the Huskies successfully defended their Division I girls state basketball title two weeks ago, is the Review-Journal’s state Player of the Year.
“She fits in well, and she just brings so much to the team,” Reno coach Shane Foster said. “As big as she is, she’s got an extra long wing span. She runs the floor extremely well. She gets out and goes, and she’s running by posts and guards.
“She’s a 5-8 athlete who has been enlarged.”
McGwire averaged team bests of 15.5 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.9 blocks for the Huskies, who finished 30-1.
Just as impressive, though, were her averages of 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals. Taller post players aren’t always good ballhandlers and passers.
But McGwire isn’t someone who just camps out in the post and waits for the ball to come to her.
“She can dribble. She can extend out, and her hands are big and unbelievably quick,” Foster said. “She gets down there on the floor and digs with the guards. She moves quite well.”
Foster’s teams generally are quite balanced in scoring, and the Huskies aren’t usually an ultra-high scoring team, priding themselves as much on defense as their ability on offense.
Because teams had to focus on trying to limit good looks for McGwire, it actually helped spread Reno’s scoring around. Senior post Morgan McGwire, Mallory’s older sister, averaged 12.2 points, and senior guard Shalen Shaw chipped in 10.1 ppg.
“Most people we played wanted to try to take the paint away,” Foster said. “We’d get good looks for our perimeter players.”
Mallory McGwire’s height, long arms and good positioning on defense did something else that doesn’t show up on a stat sheet.
Trying to score against McGwire, opposing players had to alter their shots or run the risk of having them blocked. As a result, opponents just didn’t get many easy baskets in the paint.
And McGwire altered shots and grabbed rebounds over shorter players without getting into foul trouble too often.
“She likes to block shots and likes to swing,” Foster said. “She’s gotten better at controlling the swinging. She has put a lot of work into her post game. On the defensive end, she might have been called for over the back maybe two times all year.
“There are kids who try to box her out, and she just moves and finds positions for herself around the basket.”
Not surprisingly, McGwire is getting a lot of looks from colleges. Foster said Pac-12 and Mountain West schools already are showing interest in a player who has two more years to improve before moving on to the next level.
“She can still get a lot better,” Foster said. “She sees the floor well, and she can stand out and shoot well. She’s just a great athlete.”
Contact reporter Bartt Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5230.