When Rim Country Middle School seventh-grade girls basketball coach Danielle O’Haver speaks, players listen.
Their attentiveness is because the young players know their coach understands their plight well having once been an RCMS basketball player just learning the nuances of the game. The players also know their coach reached the pinnacle they are shooting for — to become a Lady Longhorn star excelling as a playmaker, defender and scorer.
Longtime fans will remember that in the 2006 Holiday Hoops tournament O’Haver wowed the crowd with her long-distance shooting, setting a school record for three-pointers. That feat earned her a coveted spot on the all-tournament team and she later went on to become one of the finest all-around players to ever don a PHS uniform.
O’Haver admits she never has been able to completely erase basketball from her life and at the onset of the middle school-junior high basketball season agreed to co-coach the Lady Mavericks with her father, Raymond.
As a father and daughter coaching team, the two have led RCMS to a sterling 4-0 record that includes lopsided wins over Show Low, 43-13, Heber, 40-15, and Holbrook, 34-15.
Alchesay Canyon Day gave RCMS its stiffest competition, but eventually fell 35-30.
“This is a strong and very talented girls team,” said Raymond. “We have implemented an aggressive man-to-man defense and are very balanced (offensively).”
In all four games this season, the Lady Mavs have had at least six players break into the scoring column.
Individually, Tesse Hintze has led the scoring parade, Sara Novack pounds the boards as the rebounding leader and Kelsee Stonebrink tops the team in assists and steals.
With the White Mountain League season now under way, the coaches and players are looking forward to March 12 when a season-ending tournament will be held in RCMS gym.
The team’s next home game is 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 17 vs. St. Johns.
Both father and daughter leave little doubt they are enjoying the challenges of first-year coaching.
“We appreciate the opportunity to coach and develop the girls athletic program,” Raymond said.
Team members are Hannah Bix, Rachel Spooner, Becky Bauer, Brittany Proctor, Karen Guereque, Breezy Perez, Rachel Knauer, Taylor Vaughn, Hintze, Stonebrink and Novack.