Riverdale Baptist senior forward Maya Singleton did not play for the Crusaders her junior year because she moved to Louisiana to live with an aunt and uncle while her mother, Nebra, was stationed in Afghanistan.
So how did playing ball at Bossier High School near Shreveport compare to suiting up for Riverdale, considered one of the top programs in the country?
“Whoo, it doesn’t compare at all,” Singleton said with a laugh Tuesday night after she helped lead the No. 4 Crusaders to a 64-37 home win over Georgetown Day. “The competition wasn’t as high as it is up here.”
For that and many other reasons, Singleton is happy to be home, even if she misses her extended family and the collard greens, pinto beans and rice she devoured down there. And the Crusaders are glad to have her. On Tuesday night, Singleton collected 12 points, eight rebounds, six steals and three assists in her short-handed team’s victory.
“I want to try to get this national championship before I go to college,” said Singleton, who missed out on the Crusaders’ taking home the National Association of Christian Athletics title last season. Her returning teammates received their championship rings last week.
“That’s really why I came back,” she said. “They got it last year and I’m trying to do it this year.”
The senior Marshall recruit who returned from Louisiana is a lot more mature than the sophomore who left, first-year Riverdale Coach Sam Caldwell said.
“I think when you go away, you tend to appreciate being here,” Caldwell said. “She’s very happy to be back in a competitive environment every day. Her maturity has been invaluable to all these young players we have on the team.”
In their absence, junior guard Chania Ray led Riverdale with 22 points and nine steals in helping to coerce the Mighty Hoppers (4-6) into 35 turnovers. Junior forward Diamond Mickel added 11 points and senior guard Malika Wright had 10.
Senior center Zoe Beard-Fails led Georgetown Day with 13 points but is still not at full strength after suffering a knee injury last season and sitting out several games this season. Senior forward Caira Washington added 10 points, 14 rebounds and five steals for the Mighty Hoppers, who led 10-8 midway through the first quarter before Riverdale rattled off 11 unanswered points to end the period.
“We know what the odds are when we lace it up and play against them,” said Georgetown Day Coach Bobby Asher, whose team was playing just its second game in a month. “It’s a great opportunity to play against the best competition, to learn under real pressure.”