Photo by Gabriel Stovall
Mundy’s Mill guard Moneisha Dyer played in the recent Clayton County Senior All-Star game after missing a great deal of the season with an ankle injury.
RIVERDALE – This Moneisha Dyer hadn’t been seen since Northgate.
Penetrating the lane. Dishing out assists, and even stepping back to drill a couple of 3-pointers.
And there was the bounce in her step, the light countenance and even a smile.
That’s what Mundy’s Mill coach Tu Willingham meant when he said he hadn’t seen his star point guard look this way in more than half a season.
“She was bouncing around and enjoying it,” said Willingham, who was the coach of the South squad during Wednesday’s annual Clayton County Seniors All-Star game at Drew High School. “I haven’t seen her with that attitude for three months. She was just out there having fun.”
That’s saying a lot for Dyer, who Willingham said, trained and prepared for this season like it was her team. And in a lot of ways, with the departure of Brianna McQueen via graduation, it was shaping out to be just that — her team.
“I really felt like she was one of the best guards in our region,” Willingham said. “Definitely one of the best in the county. She had a great summer and really committed herself. She was eating properly, got the pounds off, and was coming into her own as our team leader.”
That was until it all turned at Northgate — although not right away. And not on a dime either.
“It was her ankle,” Willingham said. “I saw it when it happened.”
Dyer had just scored six of Mundy’s Mill’s first 10 points. She was perfect from the field. She was poised for a great game.
“She was about to go off,” Willingham said.
Instead, with the unhealthy twist of an ankle it was Dyer being helped off the court with a severe high ankle sprain.
“The worst nightmare came true,” Willingham said.
For Dyer, two healthy feet are vital for the style of ball she plays from the point guard position. If she was playing in the paint, Willingham said, perhaps she could’ve gotten away with having a bad wheel.
But not the way Dyer penetrates, slashes and just downright competes. She rehabbed and iced it. She did the things she was supposed to make it better.
Three games later against Ola, it got worse. She made a move and the ankle rolled again.
“The whole team just deflated,” Willingham said. “She was right in front of me when it happened. But it really turned out to be a blessing in disguise.”
Dyer was never more than 75 percent for the rest of the season, according to her coach. In the games she played, she averaged 16. 2 points and 6.4 assists per contest.
But her absence prodded the development of some other, less unsung players around her. Willingham mentioned sophomore Kelsi Arnold and junior Danetra Jackson as players who benefited from the increased playing time afforded them due to Dyer’s injury.
“We had no idea that Danetra was the kind of player she’s turned out to be,” Willingham said. “But again, it was a blessing in disguise. I keep telling my players that basketball is cyclical. If you shut your mouth, don’t complain about minutes, keep working hard, you’re going to get a chance to prove yourself on the floor. And that’s what those girls did.”
Dyer can testify.
On Wednesday night, several college coaches were on hand.
They weren’t there to enjoy the free-willing, no defense style of play. They weren’t there to take in the dunk contest that happened during halftime of the boys game.
They wanted to see Dyer.
“They are really interested in her,” Willingham said. “They came two other times in the season to watch her play and both times she was injured. So it felt really great to see her out there performing like she was last night.”
In the waning minutes of the game — a win for the South squad made up Jonesboro and Mundy’s Mill seniors — Dyer buried two more 3-pointers, and powered her way down the lane for one the old fashioned way.
She was knocked down by the foul. But this time she got up, walked to the free throw line without a limp, but with a smile.
The old “Mo” was back, said Willingham.
“I was blessed to be asked to coach this game and to have one more time with my seniors, and to see her do this at a high level one more time,” he said. “Mark my words. She’ll be a Division I player. And whoever gets her at the next level is going to get a hard working, humble young lady who loves the game of basketball.”