Maddie Stock doesn’t think about it. It never crosses her mind. When she’s burying jump shots, dribbling by defenders, swooping in for steals, blocking shots or hauling in rebounds, she’s focused on the only thing that matters—the end result. “I don’t think about that stuff,” the 6-foot-1, 18-year-old St. Joseph’s Academy’s senior says. “I think of the end result, whether we win or lose.”
The Angels have done their share of winning this season and Stock is one of the primary reasons why. She leads the team with 18 points and five steals per game. She also is good for five rebounds, three assists and two blocks every time out. She’s hitting 86 percent of her free throws and almost 40 percent of her three-pointers. The Angels are 17-4 and eyeing a tournament title at the Webster Winter Challenge at Webster Groves High School this weekend.
The last week, however, wasn’t so kind to the Angels. They lost two of the games they wanted more than the others on their schedule. They were mauled last Thursday at the Coaches vs. Cancer Shootout 64-32 by Chicago Bolingbrook, the No. 2 team in the nation, and held to just a single basket, a layup by Stock, in the fourth quarter.
They followed that up with a 50-45 loss to rival Incarnate Word on Saturday. St. Joe went on a 15-0 run late in the fourth quarter to trim the Red Knights’ lead to three but were unable to finish the comeback. It’s the second time Incarnate has beaten St. Joe this winter. The first came at the title game of the Visitation Christmas Tournament.
At practice the day after their latest loss to their rivals, the Angels got some sprint therapy. Some call it ‘suicides.’ Some call it ‘down and backs.’ You can just call it running—lots of running. “We ran a little more than usual,” Stock says with a laugh. St. Joe’s coach, Julie Matheny, and her assistant, Bob Goessling, were frustrated with how their team handled its games against Bolingbrook and Incarnate Word, hence the running. Both Matheny and Goessling know how talented a team they have and how far it can go. Which is why watching Bolingbrook man-handle them one day and Incarnate Word leave them in the dust two days later is just infuriating.
Which brings us back to Stock who, along with twin sister, Morgan, and junior forward, Erin Nelson, has been among the most consistent contributors for the Angels this winter. Even when Incarnate was threatening to turn last week’s game into a complete blowout, the Stock twins kept their team composed and kept chipping away until they were within one basket of tying it up.
More than points and rebounds, that leadership role is where the Stocks have developed the most this season. They have always been able to put the ball in the basket. But until this season they were never asked to shoulder the responsibility of leadership. “As freshmen and sophomores we looked up to the juniors and seniors,” Maddie says. “Now we try to help the younger kids adjust to the varsity.”
The Angels have hopes of returning to the final four in Columbia and taking another shot at a state championship. After last year’s fourth-place finish, the returning players understand what it’s going to take to make it. To get there, though, they would more than likely have to go through those pesky Red Knights once again.
Maddie thinks the finish could be different if the Angels just put together four good quarters instead of one amazing fourth quarter. “We always decide to play at the end of the game,” she says. “I hope if we see them again we play hard from the first quarter.”