FPD senior Tori Maddox can’t tell you when it will happen.
Neither can her head coach Charley Chase, much to his chagrin.
But there will be a moment in nearly every FPD basketball game during which Maddox will take over. Whether it be in the state championship game or a summer league game, the Lady Vikings’ spark finds a way to push her team to victory.
“She just has this ability to take over at certain times,” Chase said. “We’ll be in the second quarter, and she won’t have any points, and then the next time you look up she has 10. She really is instant offense for us. She just has this ability to come through when her teammamtes need her. I wish we could bottle it and use it all game.”
Maddox will try and deliver again tonight when the Lady Vikings take on Deerfield-Windsor in the GISA Class AAA Final Four in Milledgeville.
The senior has long been a key contributor on FPD basketball teams, starting games as far back as her freshman year. That year, she played on the last FPD team that missed the playoffs, but even then her coaches and teammates could see that ability to ignite the team.
But Maddox took that ability to another level in the biggest game of her life. With FPD’s team leader on the bench after fouling out, Maddox came up with three steals and six of the Lady Vikings’ points in their double overtime win over Stratford in the state championship game.
“I think that was a moment that she showed what kind of player she could be,” said Philip McLeroy, FPD’s longtime coach who retired after last year’s title game. “She knew she played well the whole game, but she took over in overtime. She really showed she is more than just a great athlete. She is a great basketball player. She became a leader on the court that night. It really looks like that has carried over, that she has more maturity on the court.”
Maddox said that moment in last year’s championship game has given her more confidence on the court this season.
The senior leads the team in scoring with 12.4 points per game and has honed her scoring ability. She uses her athleticism and quickness to get inside of creases and get to the basket. She has also become a stronger rebounder, Chase said.
“She has that personality where she knows her team well and it intensifies if we need her,” senior Morgan Johnson said. “We will look to her some, but we feel like we have a lot of players who can score. She takes over on her own to do what she needs to do to help us win. It’s great to have players like that on your side.”
Maddox came through again this Friday in the quarterfinals when she grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up for a layup and a five-point lead over Dominion Christian with less than 10 seconds to play in the game. Up to that point, Dominion hadn’t scored a point in the fourth quarter and had just missed on a number of jumpers before an Ashley Cope free throw put FPD ahead by three points.
“With just had a 3-point lead. Dominion could have grabbed that rebound and went down and made a (3-pointer) to tie the game,” Chase said. “That just shows you the desire of Tori Maddox, to come up with that rebound and clinching the win for us. It’s not surprising because she has been doing it all season.”