Sometimes, you just laughed.
Not that anything she did evoked humor. But when she penetrates into the lane, draws two defenders and then sends a wrap-around pass to a teammate for an uncontested layup, what are you supposed to do?
If the accompanying chuckle following one of her highlight-reel plays could be translated into English, it might say, “No way!”
Mariah Ruff wasn't simply the best girls basketball player around here during a junior season that included averages of 17.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 3.7 steals, she was among the best in the state.
She beat teams on the perimeter, off the dribble, in transition, with the pass, on defense and as a rebounder.
For the second straight year, Ruff earned Daily Star Player of the Year honors for girls basketball. That comes on heels of sharing Daily Star Player of the Year honors in soccer with teammate Madison Miller.
But it's basketball that will pay for Ruff's education at Division I St. Bonaventure. And it's basketball that might make some wonder if this area has produced a better girls player.
With a seemingly endless array of offensive moves, defensive tenacity and a powerful pair of legs that give her quickness and jumping ability to pull it all off, Ruff dazzled opponents all season.
But no more so than in the postseason. As the competition got better, so did she.
“The further we got into the state tournament, I kept asking her to do more and she did,” Matt Miller, The Daily Star's Coach of the Year, said of Ruff, a First Team all-state selection in Class B. “She saved her best basketball for the end of the year. She's good, talented and such a competitive kid. That competitive spirit in her also increased in the postseason. She played awesome and it was an unbelievable run.”