Molly McDermott

Carroll’s Molly McDermott shoots a free throw after being fouled by CSU Maritime during a game at the PE Center on Nov. 2, 2019.

HELENA — At 6-foot-2 inches, Molly McDermott is one of the tallest players on the Carroll College women’s basketball team.

She is listed as a guard, and that’s what she tells people she is.

“But they don’t believe me,” McDermott said with a laugh.

Even the NCAA’s No. 1-ranked Oregon Ducks don’t have a 6-2 guard.

McDermott continues laughing and shrugs her shoulders.

“I don’t really know,” McDermott said. “I don’t think any of us do. I think it’s just finding where to put me.”

That has been the puzzle Saints coach Rachelle Sayers has been trying to piece together.

It was not only a matter of finding a position that was a good fit for McDermott, but also an overall need for the team.

Sayers experimented with McDermott at small forward and power forward before she realized the off-guard position was the answer.

“She is a big guard in a lot of things that we do,” Sayers said. “We have an opportunity to post her. She is a great rebounder and she uses her length well on the perimeter.”

And, luckily for the Saints, McDermott already had experience in that role.

McDermott grew up in Spokane, Washington, and attended Gonzaga Prep High School.

She helped lead her school to back-to-back 4A State Championships and also played for the Spokane Sandpipers AAU team.

Having always been tall and the skinniest, as she would say, McDermott learned to be a post player until high school, when her coaches realized developing her as a guard for college would benefit her.

“I started out just shooting on my own, and then coaches started pushing me past my comfort zone,” McDermott said.

Soon enough, NCAA Division I offers started coming in but, more importantly, she started to enjoy her new role.

“You don’t see a lot of 6-2 guards, but here I am,” McDermott said.

McDermott’s production with Gonzaga Prep and the Sandpipers brought her opportunities to play for schools such as Seattle University, the University of Portland, Cal Baptist and even Columbia University.

But a city like New York was a little too much. Carroll College, on the other hand, was a perfect fit.

When McDermott arrived, she redshirted her freshman year.

One year later, she only appeared sparingly because of an injury.

“In early September, I got a sports hernia,” McDermott said. “It was a really bad muscle tear that wouldn’t heal on its own.”

McDermott tried to play but ended up tearing both sides. Right after the NAIA Tournament in Billings, she stayed for surgery and was out for another two months.

“It was really frustrating,” McDermott said. “I haven’t played a game in two years and then I get this super rare injury that nobody has heard of.”

The only thing that kept McDermott going was to be there for her teammates.

“I have always had that mentality to be a leader,” McDermott said.

This season, McDermott is healthy and has something to prove.

She scored a career-high 11 points against Cal Maritime last week, and continues her effort to improve as the season progresses.

“I felt awesome to feel like the player I used to be,” McDermott said. “I just wanted to prove I’m supposed to be here. I love every single aspect of this team.”

McDermott and the Saints travel to Bozeman on Monday morning for a game against the Big Sky Conference preseason favorite Montana State.

But that doesn’t intimidate McDermott. She has waited too long for her opportunity.

“Molly has played at a high level her who life,” Sayers said. “She is just Molly being Molly.”

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Ryan Kuhn covers Carroll College athletics for the Independent Record and 406mtsports.com. Email him at ryan.kuhn@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @rskuhn

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