Saugus’ McMahan honored as best in league

Saugus' Libbie McMahan (3) shoots against Canyon defender Riley Laplant (32) at Canyon on Friday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Saugus senior Libbie McMahan is this season’s All-Foothill League girls basketball player of the year. Four years ago, however, McMahan didn’t even want to play basketball.

Centurions coach Jason Conn had called McMahan’s mom over the summer asking if she was interested in playing for the team. She had some experience playing alongside other girls who were going out for the school’s respective teams in the SCV Playmakers youth basketball league, but was still unsure of if basketball was for her.

“I was really upset because I didn’t want to play,” she said. “And my mom was practically forcing me to play.”

Left with no choice, McMahan went to basketball tryouts during her freshman year. She made some friends with the older girls and eventually earned a spot on the varsity team. 

There was still work to be done, however, as McMahan developed more confidence with every season.

“Freshman year, I didn’t really shoot the ball. I was more like an extra player on the court,” she said. “But sophomore, junior and this year I had the confidence to shoot and dribble the ball more.”

It all culminated this season as Saugus was the undefeated Foothill League champion for the first time in program history and reached the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA Championships.

Mailey Ballard (right) eyes the basket as Libbie McMahan (left) tries to defend the attack. // Dan Watson/The Signal

McMahan’s stats as an individual were striking, as well. She averaged 19 points and five rebounds per game in Foothill League this season as well as four steals per game and two assists per game.

Another reason why McMahan was so apprehensive about joining the Saugus basketball team was because of her primary sport, softball. She didn’t want basketball to interfere with her chances of making the softball team, but coach Julie Archer was supportive of her competing in both sports.

Now a UC Davis softball commit, McMahan acknowledges that basketball has helped her abilities instead of hindering them.

“In basketball, you’re on your feet a lot and (you make) quick movements up and down the court,” she said. “Having a lot of quick drills in basketball has helped me play shortstop and have more range for the ground balls that are hit to me. And more stamina, as well.”

It seems like McMahan’s mom’s instincts were spot on when she urged her daughter to go out for basketball as a freshman. Now, McMahan encourages others who may be faced with a similar situation to just go for it.

“You never know how anything is going to go unless you try doing it and in the end, you’ll always be grateful you tried,” she said.

First Team

Chidinma Okafor – Senior, Canyon

Evelin Herrera – Senior, Hart

Monique Febles – Senior, Saugus

Riley Phipps – Junior, Saugus

Mailey Ballard – Junior, Valencia

Skylar Ingram – Senior, Valencia

Second Team

Lucy Collins – Senior, Canyon

Imani McGee – Junior, Golden Valley

Emma Allen – Senior, Hart

Eden Mackenzie – Junior, Saugus

Lorita Salloom – Junior, Saugus

Marissa Howell – Junior, Valencia

Honorable Mention

Jwamee Advincula – Senior, Canyon

Milan Wright – Freshman, Golden Valley

Leila Uribe – Senior, Hart

Madison Seyforth – Senior, Saugus

Camile Pagkalinawan – Senior, Valencia

Alissa Saridian – Freshman, West Ranch

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