When things aren’t going Waubonsie Valley’s way, which hasn’t been often this season, the dynamic sophomore guard danielle the story take a direct step into the void to get things back on track.
That’s why the coach Brett Love He doesn’t really get nervous.
“Those are things we talk about,” Love said of Mporokoso. “When she’s not doing well for us, she can put the team on her back and take care of business offensively.”
After a slow start for the Warriors in Monday’s Class 4A Oswego East Regional semifinal game against Oswego, Mporokoso did exactly what Love expected.
He scored his team’s final 11 points in the first quarter, erasing a 10-point deficit for Waubonsie on its way to a 67-43 victory. He ended up leading all scorers with 20 points.
Mporokoso began his 11-point streak by grabbing a rebound to reduce the deficit to 13-12. He then made four straight free throws to give the Warriors the lead for good.
After grabbing another rebound, Mporokoso hit a three-quarter-court shot at the buzzer to put Waubonsie up 21-16 heading into the second quarter.
“It’s just a lot of energy from teammates cheering you on,” Mporokoso said. “It’s really fun in those times.”
Mporokoso’s three-pointer to end the first quarter gave the Warriors all the momentum they needed.
“It was great,” Mporokoso said. “That was my first shot like that.”
Runs like that are what Love has looked forward to not only over the past two seasons but since he started working with Mporokoso in fifth grade.
“She has the ability to do that,” Love said. “She is a player. She plays at a high level. For her to make sure and score so many points for us and help us when we’re struggling, it’s great.”
However, Oswego came out strong and opened the game with a 10-0 lead. Last season, the Panthers lost to the Warriors by 66 and 67 points in their two meetings.
‘We weren’t afraid,’ Oswego coach David Lay saying. “We don’t feel intimidated. We show our maturity and how much we have improved. We are proud of the way we came out.
“I couldn’t be prouder of how we came out.”
Despite the slow start, Love didn’t call a timeout. She knew that Waubonsie could get out of there with Mporokoso’s help.
“We weren’t playing like we normally do,” Love said. “I thought eventually they would just need to shake it off and figure it out for themselves, and they did.
“I’m happy about that, but we can’t do it if we want to go further in the playoffs.”
Lay knew Mporokoso would be a threat even after his team’s good start.
“She’s one of the best players in the state,” Lay said. “She shot that one from the other volleyball line like it was a free throw. “She is incredibly special.”
University interest in Mporokoso is also starting to become more prevalent. Maryland was present on Monday.
“We’ve always had that plan,” Love said. “We have always aimed to play at that level. Now it’s at the point where everything is starting to come true. I’m very proud of her.”
Mporokoso said it is exciting to receive this attention, although she is nervous.
“I don’t look in the stands,” Mporokoso said. “Before the game I look for where my mom is, but that’s it. She’s pretty cool. I’m really grateful to be in this position. I worked very hard for it.
“It’s all paying off.”
Paul Johnson is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.