Soft-spoken McCoy headlines tough-looking Northwestern girls’ squad

bmccormick@heraldonline.comDecember 8, 2012 

Amidst the after-school chatter and busy doling-out of practice uniforms, you would’ve hardly noticed Mariah McCoy. Northwestern’s unassuming star girls’ basketball player doesn’t stand out in a crowd, especially one as boisterous as John Bramlett’s team freshly released from a lulling school day.

No, McCoy makes her noise on the stat sheet. The senior, already signed up to play ball at Division I Maryland-Eastern Shore next winter, is a jack-of-all trades handy-woman on the court, doing a little of everything to ensure the Lady Trojans run smoothly.

“When I play, I like to make my teammates look good,” she said. “It’s a team effort. I’m not really out to achieve things just for myself.”

Given her attitude, it’s hardly surprising McCoy wants to major in construction management in college. She greases the Northwestern girls’ basketball wheels, making sure everything runs smoothly and doing whatever the team needs at any particular point in a game.

“She’s a very good fundamental player, very physical,” said Bramlett, “and knows how to get her teammates involved. She’s been a great player for us here.”

When McCoy speaks, you almost have to lean in and listen. She’s not loud, unlike some of her teammates, but her play speaks for itself.

“When you see a Division I player, you think of a lot of scoring, and she’s gonna’ average 12 to 15 points per game,” said Bramlett. “But she distributes the ball a lot. Sometimes it makes me mad because she does it too much.”

McCoy, who averaged 12.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.0 steals last year, laughed when told Bramlett said that. She’s not a chest-beater or attention-seeker, just a stat sheet-stuffer.

“I’m not one of those players that’s just out to make enemies on the floor,” she explained. “I just go out to prove what I gotta prove and that’s all I try to do when I go play.”

Bramlett said the college coaches recruiting McCoy noticed and appreciated her workmanlike attitude.

UNC-Asheville, S.C. State and Winthrop all offered McCoy scholarships, but part of Maryland-Eastern Shore’s appeal was the inviting distance.

“I wanted to get away,” said McCoy. “I really didn’t want to be near home. I wanted to get a new experience and get a new feel for a different way to play basketball with different people.”

Plus, the school was one of the only ones that offered the construction management program. The major includes invaluable work experience in the field that McCoy will get in her sophomore and junior years, making her shovel-ready (as the politicians like to say) as soon as she graduates.

Before she heads off to Princess Anne, Md., McCoy, who’s made All-Region each of the past two years, has a promising fourth varsity season to tackle. She helped the Trojans to a 19-6 record last year with a trip to the second round of the state playoffs. Bramlett said that his team had leads in four of the six defeats.

Besides McCoy, Northwestern has a pair of quick, slippery guards in Ieshia Love and Aubriana Thompson, and twin towers in 6-foot-3 senior Natalie Henderson and 6-foot-4 junior Paige Samuelson. There’s a little bit of everything on Bramlett’s roster, and a lot of excitement within the team’s huddle.

“We have probably one of the best teams to ever come through Northwestern,” said McCoy. “We play well together, we get along great on the floor. I just feel like we’re very underrated and we just want to prove that we can be successful this year.”

That’s saying a lot coming from McCoy, who can make a church mouse look worthy of a noise ordinance violation. With nine of last year’s 12 returning, plus the addition of transfer London Minor from South Pointe, Bramlett’s team looks one of the early favorites in Region 3-AAAA. It could be a special year for Northwestern girls’ basketball, especially when the team’s best player, McCoy, is also the most unselfish.

“We’re extremely proud of her,” said Bramlett. “She has things in perspective.”

Bret McCormick 803-329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T

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