Floor leader McCloskey makes Mustangs go
For all the reasons behind the Memorial girls basketball team’s substantial success this season, coach Jyusef Larry said it’s junior point guard Riley McCloskey who is the straw of the Mustangs’ drink.
From the scoring prowess of Abigail Tomaski and Mackenzie McKown to the versatility of Nicki Polocheck, to the interior dominance of Giana Vlahakos, the Mustangs do not lack proficiency in any area on the court.
But it’s the poise and leadership of the 5-foot-6 McCloskey that makes it all one.
“Overall, just being able to be a leader on the court, distribute the ball, and control the pace of the game has been huge for me,” McCloskey said. “It just comes from experience. I’ve been playing almost my whole life. I’ve learned from each game and have been able to build on that.”
Through the first 24 games this season, of which Memorial has won 20, McCloskey is averaging 11 points, 4.8 assists, 3.2 steals, and three rebounds per game. She is a knockdown, prolific 3-point shooter—shooting 34 percent on 6.7 attempts per game—and a strong defender.
But where McCloskey’s influence is most felt is in running the team. She is a prototypical floor leader.
Through those 24 games, McCloskey is averaging 4.8 assists to only 1.8 turnovers per game, an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.76, an impressive mark.
“I just try to lead,” McCloskey said. “Be calm and be relaxed. Try and play my own game and don’t try and do too much. That’s becoming easier for me. Most of my teammates and I have been playing club together for a while now, so it makes it easier knowing what they’re thinking and where they’re going to go and building chemistry.”
Mid-Season Junior Highlights- 2023 Memorial High School PG #1 @77024Basketball @JPSElite @JPSElite_L3http://www.hudl.com/v/2Gee18— Riley McCloskey (@Riley McCloskey) 1640728449
McCloskey and her father have long followed Pete Maravich and Chris Paul, two greats of the game known for their smarts, passing ability, decision-making, and high-percentage shooting. While almost everyone knows who Paul is, the idolization of Maravich might raise some eyebrows. He was an iconic college and pro player in the ’70s, well before McCloskey’s time.
“I love his ability to pass the ball and how creative he is on the floor,” said McCloskey, who watches film of Maravich and is an admirer of “The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend,” a movie made about him. “As a point guard, your role is to be able to distribute the ball and share and create opportunities for your teammate. That’s very important.”
McCloskey has Maravich’s flair for passing and creating. She also has Paul’s control and mastery of the game.
McCloskey fell in love with basketball at the age of five because of its fast pace and adrenaline.
“You’re constantly moving up and down the court,” she said. “I love that.”
She is a hoops junkie, one determined to leave a legacy at Memorial. Within the past month, McCloskey has reached a plethora of program milestones in career points, assists, and steals.
McCloskey surpassed 300-plus career assists and 200-plus career steals. She also topped the 1,000-point career scoring mark earlier this week against Spring Woods and is 30 3-pointers away from 200 made.
#1K @RileyMcCloskey3 \n\n@MHShouston @MHSMustangsBC @sbisdathletics @YourBranchNewspic.twitter.com/28818blgW5— Memorial Basketball (@Memorial Basketball) 1642606074
“One of my goals was always to get 1,000 points by the end of my junior year, which I think would be super cool,” McCloskey said. “I think that’s really important. And, of course, the 300 assists is really cool. I’m small for my size, so I take a lot of pride in finding ways to score and finding ways to create.”
(This story will appear in the upcoming VYPE Spring Branch ISD spring sports magazine in February).