It hit me a week ago when talking with Steve Moser after a game.
He sat on a cushioned folding chair at the head of Danville’s bench, the one he never uses when his girls are playing, and dissected the game plan in a win over Milton. He described the Ironmen’s execution — good and bad — as well as his adjustments, and he punctuated the stream of intricate thought with the most basic key of all:
“Our concern was we weren’t going to let Maggie Wetzel do what she did to us at Milton.”
That’s right. The area’s best girls team — one with a 13-game win streak, that’s a two-point overtime loss away from a perfect record — was most mindful of a freshman with 18 varsity games to her credit.
Not long ago, I used this spot to highlight so many eye-catching newcomers in the Valley, freshmen, sophomores and the rare junior, who emerged to help their varsity teams.
Since then, however, it’s become obvious this is the best ninth-grade class the area has seen in some time. These freshmen are difference-makers, girls who have skipped the 6 p.m. warm-up act to contribute to the success of their programs.
There are plenty to fill an all-freshman team; enough for two, in fact. So that’s what follows here, our nod to the area’s terrific crop of newcomers.
Guard: Joelle Snyder, Line Mountain (10.1 ppg.)
Snyder has been the Eagles’ second-leading scorer throughout the season, and is coming off a career-high 18 points against Greenwood. She is a terrific ballhandler with a knack for finishing in transition and an improving perimeter game.
“She’s still learning a little bit,” said Eagles coach Mike Reed. “She had been forcing up some bad shots earlier in the year, and that’s kind of going away. Because as an eighth grader, she would be getting double-teamed but she could drive right past people with her athleticism.
“I told her, after about the fourth game, I said, ’It’s not eighth grade anymore, is it?’ She like, ’No.’ We’ve still got some work to do, but she’s getting better.”