Ryan’s McCurdy standing tall

Senior Danielle McCurdy worked hard to make the starting lineup, and she’s helped to keep the Ragdolls’ stellar season rolling along.

Danielle McCurdy goes up for a layup. The senior forward has become one of the top players on the team. SOURCE: DANIELLE MCCURDY

Danielle McCurdy worked hard to get into the starting lineup.

And it’s that hard work that’s kept her there.

McCurdy, a senior center and power forward on the Archbishop Ryan High School basketball team, earned more minutes a season ago by putting in a lot of effort when she was standing under the glass. And even though the Ragdolls were rolling along, her effort moved her from a reserve to a starter in the middle of the season.

“They just put me in, I think, because I was working really hard,” said McCurdy, who lives in Pine Valley. “I knew that’s why they put me in, so I kept working as hard as I could. That’s what got me in, so I wanted to keep doing it.”

McCurdy’s effort hasn’t changed. Her contribution to the team certainly has.

Last year, McCurdy’s biggest asset was her ability to defend and rebound, and the 6-foot senior still uses her height to her advantage in those areas, but this year she’s become one of the top scorers in the Catholic League, and a huge reason the Ragdolls are rolling along.

Ryan is 12–0 overall, 4–0 in Catholic League play. They played a tough non-league schedule that included wins over Germantown Academy and Camden Catholic, and in Catholic League play, they bested local teams Little Flower and St. Hubert.

This is the second year in a row the Ragdolls have gotten off to a fast start, and McCurdy and her teammates feel teams are still overlooking Ryan. That’s fine, as far as she’s concerned.

“Last year, we surprised teams and I still think this year people don’t think we’re as good as we are,” McCurdy said. “As long as we win, it doesn’t matter. Nobody really cares who is good now, we have to play better later.

“We’re just trying to win every game. When we play good teams and win, it’s good because it helps us get better. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

McCurdy is getting better. She’s now one of the top scoring options on a balanced team, and that makes the Ragdolls tough to defend.

But she’s not giving up her bread and butter.

“There are a lot of good forwards and centers in the Catholic League, so I’m having fun playing there,” McCurdy said. “I think the best part of my game is still defense. That’s my favorite part of the game. I worked hard on my offense, but I’m still working on defense and rebounding because that’s why I’m playing.”

She’s also working to get other players better.

The Ragdolls have three senior starters, but many of the contributors are juniors and sophomores, which means they’re still learning how to play high school basketball. They’re talented, but sometimes they need a little pep talk from a veteran, and when that’s needed, McCurdy is ready to speak up.

“My biggest thing is doing whatever I can to make everyone get better,” McCurdy said. “We don’t really have captains, we have seniors, so I’m expected to be a leader, we all are.

“The younger girls work hard, too. Everyone on the team does. And it’s good to play for a coach like (Mike McCusker) because he believes in all of us. He always feels like we’re going to win so that makes us always feel like we’re going to win. It gives us a lot of confidence.”

The coach feels the same way about his star.

“Danielle gives us the presence of a shot blocker when our opponents drive to the basket, along with her athleticism,” McCusker said.

“Danielle is great with the younger players by showing them what it takes to compete and work hard off the court, by staying after practices and making herself a better player.”

Next year, McCurdy wants to play college basketball while majoring in business. She’s unsure about where she’ll end up, and she’s still looking to talk to schools.

“I definitely want to play,” McCurdy said. “I hope to still play forward, at least on defense. I can play anywhere on offense, but I like playing underneath, either forward or center.

“I want to major in business or accounting. It sounds fun because you get to work with people and money, I think I’d like that.”

Before she goes to college, she hopes to play at one.

If the Ragdolls make the Catholic League finals, they’ll play at the University of Pennsylvania, and right now, that’s her goal.

“We want to make it to the Palestra and play as long as we can,” McCurdy said. “We want to keep getting better and play better every game. I really want to win a championship. I love playing with this team and I want to play with them for as long as I can.”