FEDERAL WAY – Crumble or compete?
Which way would a young Megan Huff lean when her coach yelled at her during a club basketball game?
She wasn’t playing to her potential, so he let her – and everyone else in the gym – hear about it.
Both she and her mom knew it would be a telling moment.
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“I remember watching and I thought, either she’s going to cry, or she’s going to get mad and she’s going to go out there and do it,” her mom, Margaret Vander Hyden, said. “I wondered how tough she was going to be.”
Tough enough. Huff, then in eighth grade, turned anger into assertion and elevated her game.
Today the 6-foot-3 senior is among Washington’s top players and a key reason Beamer High School has hopes of reaching the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament for the first time in school history. The sixth-ranked Titans (23-2) play No. 8 Arlington (19-4) in a regional game Saturday at 2 p.m. at Puyallup High School.
Huff, who averages nearly 14 points, nine rebounds and four blocks per game, is also a standout volleyball player and plans to play both sports at the University of Hawaii, and beyond.
That seemed highly improbable just a couple of years ago for this late bloomer, who didn’t start playing club volleyball until her sophomore year but now insists she can’t choose a favorite sport.
Always tall for her age, but somewhat awkward and uncoordinated early on, Huff was content to play recreational basketball. But in seventh grade, a family friend recruited her for the Northwest Magic AAU team.
“I didn’t play very much, because I wasn’t very good,” she recalls. “I didn’t have that focus or mindset yet.”
That came the following year, after coach Gerald McClendon called her out for her lack of effort.
“It was kind of a make-or-break moment, and it kind of just made it for me,” Huff said. “My mindset changed… I just kind of got angry and said, ‘OK, I’m going to do this.’ ”
At Beamer, Huff started as a freshman and was among the top three scorers on a team that won 13 games and advanced to the West Central District tournament . The Titans had finished a combined 5-33 the previous two seasons.
Beamer failed to make the playoffs the following year, when Huff averaged 16.5 points per game, then took a giant step last season as Corey Alexander came in as head coach, accompanied by some talented freshmen.
The Titans won the SPSL South Division for the first time, but suffered some late-season injuries and lost in the regional round to Arlington – which went on to reach the state-championship game.
They welcome Saturday’s rematch.
“It’s a revenge game for us,” Huff said.
She is the leading scorer on a balanced team and can take over at times.
“She is a rare find,” Alexander said, “a 6-3 post player who slaps glass with ease and has a soft touch from around the rim to the 15-foot range. She is a shot-blocker and rebounder who can handle herself in the open court.”
And for Megan Huff, it all started by the way she handled a coach’s criticism.
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