McALESTER — It takes McAlester senior guard Madeline McGowan, nicknamed “Maddie,” just moments to swarm in on defense, applying pressure and putting the opposing guard in panic mode. McGowan’s pressure has produced quite a few turnovers, but McGowan pairs it with a knack for knowing when to back off the guard and instead try to intercept a pass.
It’s a dizzying combination of defensive skills, but McGowan pulls it off. Coach April Burns has said on more than one occasion that McGowan’s defense can “wear you out,” and more than one opposing guard has indeed looked worn out after tangling with McGowan.
“I’ll try to get a steal, but I won’t overplay it enough to where she can go shoot a layup,” McGowan said Wednesday.
“Picking the ball up and knowing that I can get that 10-second call, too, and then turning her and stuff like that, it just motivates me. I have the first (chance) to get a steal.”
Born in McAlester, McGowan grew up in McAlester Public Schools. She said she started playing basketball at a young age, playing Boys and Girls Club basketball with future teammate and friend Meredith Saunier.
“Our dads coached in Boys and Girls Club basketball,” McGowan said. “I just remember when I was really little and my dad was coaching, I was ... probably 5 or 6, and him just yelling at us. That’s all, really. We really wouldn’t hustle or anything.”
McGowan said she started playing competitive basketball at Parker Intermediate Center, then moved up to junior-high ball at Puterbaugh Middle School. She spent her freshman year at Lakewood Christian School and helped the Lady Lions reach the Oklahoma Christian Schools Athletic Association state championship that year.
McGowan also first came under the tutelage of Coach Burns at Lakewood.