South Carroll High School senior Makeba Ndifang’s passion for the sport of basketball is largely fueled by three things: a love of rebounding, the thrill of competing with teammates and learning something new everyday at practice.
It’s that desire to soak in basketball knowledge that has helped transform Ndifang from a player relying on raw power into one of the more versatile and skilled post players in the area.
“She started playing late so she has just gotten 10 times better,” Cavaliers coach Liz Padgett said. “She didn’t start playing until her seventh grade year. She’s come a real long way; she’s a great kid who works hard and likes being the leader for the team.”
Ndifang started playing basketball after her arrival to the United States. She was born in Germany, where her parents attended school, but moved to the U.S. just prior to her 12th birthday. In fact, she instantly fell in love with the sport while watching others play.
“[I thought basketball was] really cool. I want to do this,” Ndifang said. “I love just getting better with everything when I come to practice. I’m never done learning.”
Her desire to get better has led to an expansion in her game over the past couple of years, including taking the ball to the basket, shooting from outside the post area and a devastating spin move that caught the eye of Oakdale coach Rob Healy.
“I’ve never seen a post player come through here with the spin move and finish,” Healy said. “A lot will spin and miss, but she spins and finishes consistently. She’s a force inside for them.”
Her production this winter bears that out as Ndifang entered the week averaging 13.7 points and 10.2 rebounds a game. She averaged 14 points and nine rebounds a contest as a junior. She has been on the varsity squad since being promoted by Padgett as a freshman.
“She has learned to put the ball on the floor once and drive from the elbow,” Padgett said. “She developed her spin move and she’s a lot more mobile now. She has much better footwork and a lot more moves. Before, Makeba was [successful because she was] the biggest and strongest. She could rebound and score, but it wasn’t the prettiest. She wants the ball and she has no problem being the go-to person in the paint.”
Ndifang more than fulfilled that role against Liberty, Oakdale, Francis Scott Key and other teams this winter. She recorded 24 points and 17 rebounds against Liberty, 18 points against Oakdale, and 20 points and 14 rebounds against Francis Scott Key to help the Cavaliers to an 11-5 mark through Sunday.