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Reno’s McGwire repeats as player of year

At 6 feet, 4 inches tall, it’s difficult for Reno High junior Mallory McGwire to blend in.

But after her sister, a 6-2 post, graduated last year, and three of the Huskies’ other top players also headed off to college, McGwire became the center of every opponent’s attention.

Finding the girl who seemingly was a head taller than everyone else on the floor was easy.

Stopping her, not so much.

McGwire averaged 21.8 points, 14.3 rebounds and 6.9 blocked shots per game, and collected her second straight Review-Journal state player of the year award.

“At the beginning of the season, it was a little different for her. We had never asked her to take on that big of a load,” said Reno coach Shane Foster. “She faced a lot of double teams, but if you don’t double her, she’s getting 30 points by the middle of the third quarter.

“I don’t think there’s anyone more valuable to a team. She changes the way everybody plays. She dominated both sides of the ball.”

As a sophomore, McGwire averaged 15.5 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game, but she had plenty of help from her sister Morgan (12.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg) and outside shooters Shalen Shaw, Savannah Schulze and Alyson Rippingham to take pressure away.

“Whether it was her sister or Shalen on the perimeter, to double one of our players last year, you had to leave someone pretty good open,” Foster said.

With all four teammates gone, it was clear who opponents wanted to stop.

But McGwire handled it well, improving her passing skills and helping guards Daranda Hinkey (10.6 ppg) and Mikayla Shults (8.6 ppg) develop.

“She will do everything you ask her to do,” Foster said. “She’s as athletic as anyone on the floor. She’s just taller than everyone else. She gets better every year. It’s just amazing. Her shot from 10 to 12 feet is really good.”

McGwire also was asked to play more minutes this year, and often had to play through foul trouble as she helped the Huskies (24-4) to the Division I Northern Region title game.

“She maintained her composure unbelievably well,” Foster said. “There were times when it looked to people like she had to be fouling someone, but she was just standing there. She’s just so long and athletic. Her footwork will keep getting better because she works on it.

McGwire, who is drawing interest from Pac-12 and Big 12 colleges among other big-name schools, and former Reed guard Gabby Williams have won the state player of the year award twice each in the last four years. Williams is a freshman at Connecticut.

“Gabby and Mallory are the two best players the North has ever had,” Foster said. “We don’t see that level of player, and people in the south don’t get to the chance to see them much.”

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5230.

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