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ALBRIGHT: Madeline Huffman takes place among the MOV greats at point guard

Three young ladies hold perhaps the highest spot in the pantheon of great Mid-Ohio Valley high-school point guards. Parkersburg South, St. Marys and Parkersburg Catholic fans certainly know their names well. Each young lady contributed heaps of everything to their teams during the time spent in the school’s uniform.

Maggie Boelter, Kelsie Fickiesen and Taryn McCutcheon elevated their groups to new levels from the moment of their arrival until their departure. Many have taken a shot at adding their name to this highest of lists over the years, but to no avail. Four years ago, another attempt began after a No. 31 Parkersburg Catholic jersey was assigned to a wiry five-foot tall point guard.

Something felt different about this one, though.

“Everything changed the day Madeline Huffman walked through the door,” said Parkersburg Catholic head coach Marty Vierheller.

It didn’t take long to see why. Though Alexis Saunders led the Crusaderettes during Huffman’s freshman season, her will to win was immediately on display. All the little things like diving for loose balls, being a vocal leader, and knowing when to take control already showed themselves early and often.

But this was only the beginning.

Everything kicked up a notch immediately during the summer before her sophomore season.

When she undoubtedly became the team’s leader, expectations instantly raised higher. All mentalities changing to that of an even harder working bunch. Winning, and winning often, made for a great new mandate – State title banner No. 10 was within reach.

Heck, anything was seemingly possible under her command.

“It was extremely surprising in a good way. I had never named a sophomore captain, but Madeline was the first and that shows you what we thought of her during her sophomore year to be that kind of a leader. And consider this, consider the players who were older than Madeline who accepted the fact that not only is she a captain, but she deserves to be a captain and they needed to listen to her because she knows what she is talking about. It is very rare. In other programs, with other teams it would create great animosity and great stress and could ruin your season. But with Madeline it was anything but that,” said Vierheller.

And because of this acceptance, the underclassmen fell in line shortly afterward. “The way she plays and the heart she has for the game is just awesome,” said teammate Aaliyah Brunny.

With everyone on board, what followed were three of the best years in the program’s history. Huffman fully displayed traits from Boelter, Fickiesen and McCutcheon every season.

The best example of all these skills coming together came in her sophomore year. Early in the season in order to take pressure off her freshman teammates, Huffman channeled the Patriot and Blue Devil. She put up high scoring numbers in every game. But as her teammates adjusted to the faster pace, she sprinkled in a bit of everyone into the mix with assists, rebounds and steals.

Catholic snapped a state-tournament drought later in the season after a Little Kanawha Conference championship. Huffman led the Crusaderettes to three straight LKC championships and three consecutive state tournament appearances as a matter of fact.

None of this success ever changed her, though.

Even until the very end in perhaps her last game in a Crusaderette uniform, she remained true to herself and her belief in her team. Driven hard by the thought of another shot at Huntington St. Joe in the title game, she dished out a new Class A state tournament record of 15 assists as Catholic rolled over Tucker County.

“Huffman is one of those special players who works hard. She is skilled and prepared and when you pair that combination together with the willingness to humble herself after her main plan of attack is taken away she does something different like step up and pull the trigger herself and that is special. Then if you adjust the next game, she gets Aaliyah (Brunny), her sister (Leslie), or someone else involved and Madeline makes her teammates around her better” said St. Marys’ head coach Howie Meeks.

“She is the consummate team player,” said Vierheller.

Agreed, Coach V.

So make some room, McCutcheon. Budge up a bit, Fickiesen. And, take a little shuffle to the left or right on your bench, Boelter. The three of you have a new young lady joining your ranks today.

“I think she belongs in this group, absolutely,” said Vierheller.

Now, four greats serve as stewards of the position.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com

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