Balancing act

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Not one to shy away from a class project or school activity, Maggie Ronan has refused to be pigeonholed by one task.

A junior at Bishop McGuinness High (Kernersville, N.C.), Ronan has proven capable of balancing both tennis and basketball careers while standing tall as a leader at her school.

Already the Class A defending state champion in tennis, Ronan and her basketball teammates will soon enter the North Carolina state tournament as defending champion, looking to add to an already impressive resume.

"Ever since I was little, I liked being a leader," says Ronan, who is an honor student with a 3.85 GPA. "I like being a role model."

While the other activities fill Ronan's student day planner, basketball has always been her first love. She began playing in organized leagues as a fourth grader, playing on the fifth-sixth grade team, and soon added AAU in the spring and summer. Her AAU team won the state championship at ages 11, 12 and 13 and her eighth grade team went 27-0.

"I've known her since third grade and she has been the same kid all the way through," says Bishop McGuinness coach Brian Robinson, who has been coaching Ronan since the eighth grade. "She is very focused and well-mannered and it has carried over to her high school career. She does all the little things we need to help win games. She is an excellent leader and calming influence, a very good team player. She's got good balance in her life and you can tell she is going to be very successful."

Ronan was the second player off the bench as a freshman at Bishop McGuinness, a school of 510 students in grades 9-12. The 5-8 shooting guard became a starter as a sophomore when she averaged 7.1 points, took a team-leading 11 charges and helped the Villains win the Class A state championship with a 31-0 record.

"She's not as athletic as a lot of girls, but she is very tenacious, very tough," Ronan's mother, Carolee, says. "She likes to win and is extremely competitive."

Ronan was named MVP of last year's state championship game, a 54-31 victory over Southeast Halifax (Roanoke Rapids). She had eight points, eight rebounds, four steals and took two charges. "She plays without fear," Robinson says. "She's very strong. Going into the lane she can take a hit and not lose her balance."

This season she is averaging 11.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 2.6 assists. The Villains are 23-1 and have won 54 of their 55 games. Their 41-game winning streak was ended by Oakton (Va.), 66-57, during a Christmas tournament.

Though she's primarily a shooting guard, Ronan can do much more than fire jump shots.

"I like to drive a lot," she says. "One of my stronger assets is defense. I've guarded bigger and faster players. I'll definitely take a challenge. I'm competitive and hard-nosed."

"She really knows how to win," tennis coach Maria Moerk says. "When the pressure is on she shines. She's a very quick learner. She's gotten a lot better playing angles on the court and pulling opponents out of position. She is more of an offensive player. She's definitely able to get a lot out of tennis for the time she is able to put in. She has untapped potential."

• Four high school runners made the USA cross country team during the USATF Junior Nationals last Saturday in Boulder, Colo. In the girls division, Californian Jordan Hasay (San Luis Obispo Mission College Prep) placed first in 21:44, while Virginian Aurora Scott finished fourth in 22:06. In the boys division, unheralded Elliott Heath (Winona, Minn.) placed first in 26:07, while New Mexico's Matt Tebo (Albuquerque Eldorado) was third in 26:22.

• The U.S. National under-17 hockey team defeated host Slovakia's under-18 team, 5-1, to win the under-18 Vlad Dzurilla tournament for the second straight year. Justin Florek of Marquette, Mich., scored two goals in the final 10 minutes to clinch the victory.

• D.J. Gay of Sun Valley Poly has made a verbal commitment to attend San Diego State. The 6-0 senior point guard scored a school-record 56 points against Van Nuys and is leading the Los Angeles City Section in scoring with 30 points per game.

• Los Angeles Crenshaw coach Willie West got his 800th career victory last week, while Lee Gilbert picked up No. 500 for Ottawa Hills (Grand Rapids, Mich.).