Del Norte High girls basketball senior night on Feb. 8 represented something of a changing of the guard.
Brittany Maready, the standout senior guard who led the Warriors in scoring in 12 of their 22 games, was playing her last home game for Del Norte. Greeting her for the ceremony were her parents, John and Hollie Maready, and younger brother Steven.
John Maready was a three-sport athlete at Del Norte High and is a member of the Warriors Hall of Fame. Hollie Maready played basketball and volleyball for the Warriors. Steven Maready had completed his sophomore season as the Del Norte varsity boys basketball team's starting point guard the night before his big sister was honored.
Talented athletes all, though basketball is the family's sport.
"Anytime, as a parent, you can watch your kids perform in sports, you're happy for them," John Maready said. "You've already been there."
Maready, a 1993 graduate of Del Norte High, was a first-team all-Humboldt-Del Norte League selection in baseball, basketball and football. He won the Case-McGilvery-Clausen award as the outstanding senior male athlete at Del Norte in 1993 and played baseball for one season at College of the Redwoods.
"He was as good as any basketball player we've ever had," said longtime Del Norte High coach Kirk Burrows.
Maready is a consistent presence at Del Norte County Recreation Department men's league basketball and softball. Those who have known him longest marvel at the athleticism he still shows.
"He's just smooth," said Buzz McCulloch, former coach of the Del Norte girls basketball team and a referee for Rec Department sports. "You watch him and it doesn't look like he's going very fast but he covers a lot of ground."
Brittany and Steven would toddle along with their father to rec games and take in the sights. When Brittany was of age, she was able to play in a youth league.
"She really took to youth rec basketball," John Maready said. "Always, that's been her sport."
Brittany and Steven got a crash course in basketball when John was the Del Norte High junior varsity head coach from 2002 to 2007. They would watch their father conduct practices and soak up what the high school kids were doing on the court.
What ultimately separated them from their peers on the court, John Maready said, was the work they'd put in outside of organized contests. Brother and sister played innumerable games of one-on-one in the driveway, sharpening their games - and their elbows.
"It would end up in fights," John Maready recalled with a laugh. "They were pretty competitive with each other. I'd have to rebound for each of them."
Brittany made the Warriors' varsity basketball team as a sophomore and led Del Norte in scoring. Her smooth shooting stroke and ball-handling abilities allowed for an easy transition to varsity play. On the court, her demeanor is so nonchalant it could be mistaken for passivity.
"Sometimes you'd see her get frustrated," McCulloch said. "She just never really did that. She's a good little ball player and she wants to win. She tries hard all the time."
Brittany's 2011andndash;12 season was lost to a tear in the meniscus of her right knee on Dec. 2, 2011, against Yreka High. She returned to workouts after a month on the shelf, looking to regain her form.
"She was bummed at the start, but it was one of the (injuries) where you can have a quick recovery," John Maready said. "After her surgery, it was more about getting back, getting a couple of games in."
As Brittany and the Warriors enjoyed their most successful season in three years, going 10-12 and breaking a 14-game league losing streak, Steven was coming into his own at the varsity level.
He had already been a part of the Del Norte High freshman team of 2011andndash;12 that went undefeated under head coach Burrows. He has two years of junior varsity football under his belt and he is playing baseball for the Warriors this spring - a three-sport athlete, like his father.
"Steven learns so well," Burrows said. "You don't have to tell him twice. He really understood what we were trying to do (on the court)."
That level of understanding allowed varsity coach Blaine Lopez to entrust Steven with the starting point guard position. Del Norte endured a tough year (7-13 overall, 2-6 HDN Big 5) and Steven, generously listed at 5-foot-6, took his lumps against bigger guards.
"I was able to give him a little game plan on what it was like, what was expected, how to handle it," John Maready said. "It was a learning experience. You've really got to work hard."
With five graduating seniors on the boys' varsity roster, the opportunity to assume greater responsibility is there for the taking for Steven. Through his family, he comes uniquely equipped with the understanding of that responsibility - on and off the court.
"The Mareadys have both kept it in perspective," Burrows said. "They created two great kids. Good kids are hard to find."
Reach Robert Husseman at firstname.lastname@example.org .