Freshman has huge upside

by: Photo By Joe McHaney - Madras freshman point guard Mariah Stacona is loaded with basketball talent.

Mariah Stacona sat in class at Madras High School Dec. 6 looking at the clock with anticipation.
   She was a like a kid preparing for a visit to the principal's office for possible detention. Her hands clammy, heart racing and her eyes constantly on the classic circular clocks seen in high schools across the nation for years.
   Only Stacona was not headed to Sarah Braman-Smith's office Dec. 6; instead the highly-touted freshman was nervous with anticipation for her first high school girls basketball game.
   "It wasn't so much nervousness, but more just wanting to play," Stacona said. "All day I was watching the clock and the day just kept dragging on and on."
   The White Buffalo point guard has been hyped by many; she is already drawing reviews from media sources around the state and those close to her know exactly what she's capable of doing on the hardwood. During starting lineup introductions, Stacona drew the loudest applause from the stands last Tuesday, as it appeared many were ready for Stacona to get her high school career under way.
   In her first game, Stacona didn't disappoint, although, she would agree it was not her best game. But then again, no one should expect a young teenager to play her best considering the crowd was swelled to welcome Class 5A Mountain View coupled with big expectations for her team ranked No. 1 in Class 4A.
   "The game didn't go the way we wanted to go, but we'll shake it off and get the next one," Stacona said.
   Stacona showcased what she is capable of doing and that will be filling up box scores with statistics. She swatted a shot attempt just two minutes into the game and scored Madras' first bucket of the year at the 2:50 mark in the first quarter.
   "She did really good," Oster said. "She has a lot of expectations on her shoulders, but she handled it well tonight."
   Using an amazingly fast crossover, Stacona looks as if she should be playing for the Harlem Globetrotters. She as smooth as soft butter when handling the basketball and she can leap out of the gym. She did so with a blocked shot to end the third quarter. Stacona chased down a streaking Mountain View player, who appeared to have an easy layup, but Stacona sent the basketball into the wall by using electric speed to close the gap, before leaping high into the air to send the basketball flying out of bounds instead of into the net.
   "I just try my hardest to do everything I can to help our team," Stacona said. "If I have to block shots, well then that's what I'm going to do."
   Stacona plays as if she has already logged 50 games in a White Buffalo uniform, although it was only her first of what should be at least 80-90 games if she stays healthy.
   Stacona was stellar in middle school, playing mostly with boys teams. She was slated as a Class 4A preseason second-team all-state point guard by and her head coach Rory Oster said she has the best ball handling skills in the state.
   "She can handle the ball, but she has to work on blowing by defenders, instead of dribbling east and west," Oster said. "She is capable of so much more and she will get there."
   Stacona is impressive. She played all 32 minutes and in just one game, it's easy to see why she has drawn so much hype. What impresses the most is while Stacona is just a freshman, she spoke like a veteran player at the end of the game.
   "This was a learning experience," Stacona said. "We will improve from this one."
   Learning she is, and while she does, White Buffalo patrons are going to get very spoiled by what appears to be one of the best basketball players in the state, who has a very high ceiling of potential.
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