For Great Bend High School senior McKenna Mauler, the choice to play basketball for Labette Community College next year was a logical one.
“I really liked the coach,” Mauler said. “The community’s kind of similar to Great Bend, small, and sports is kind of a big deal there.”
Beyond the good fit, Mauler said it would serve as a good proving ground to see if she wants to continue things at a four-year school.
“It’s close to (Pittsburg State), and I’m thinking about going to Pitt after next year,” Mauler said. “They kind of do the same offense. It’s a good way to see if it’s what I really want to do or not.”
Therefore Mauler signed her letter of intent to play hoops for the Lady Cardinals next season on Wednesday.
Mauler said there were a number of schools she had looked into.
“There were quite a few,” Mauler said. “I had McPherson, Sterling, Labette and Barton. There were more, but that’s all I can think of. Labette just seemed like the right one. They (run the same kind of offense), so it’ll be a good transition.”
Mauler is coming off a strong senior season with Great Bend. As the starting point guard, she led a team that won more games than any other girls’ team in school history, finishing with a 21-4 record in the Class 5A State Tournament.
The Lady Panthers finished fourth at the state tournament.
“Going to state was a really big deal,” Mauler said. “It was a lot of fun, and I just enjoyed the whole season. We’re all basically sisters, so it was fun.”
Mauler averaged 5.7 points and 3.6 assists per game during her senior season with Great Bend. She also had 1.5 steals per game.
“I think going into this year, she improved so much,” GBHS head coach Carrie Minton said. “I think that she’s been playing with so much more confidence this year that going into college, I know that it’s a different level, but I think she’s just starting to recognize her potential.
“McKenna works extremely hard. She was a great leader for our team, for our program. She’s been a varsity player for four years, so we’re losing a great leader, but I think Labette is gaining a tremendous athlete.”
Labette, which is coached by Anna Nimz, went 16-14 overall this season.
Mauler said that while she’s looking forward to playing at the next level, she’s just happy her basketball career isn’t over yet.
“I just love playing basketball, so I just didn’t want to quit just yet,” Mauler said.