Before the season started, Shawnee Mission West High School senior Morgan Mauck was not even sure she wanted to play basketball.
Mauck, who was named Sunflower League soccer midfielder of the year as a junior, was already committed to play soccer at Middle Tennessee State. But she elected to return for one more season of basketball.
SM West coach Scott Aldrich and the Vikings are sure glad she is on the roster.
“She decided that if she was going to play, she was going to win and she is doing everything she can to help us win in any way, shape or form,” Aldrich said. “People understand that she is going to go with soccer, but seeing her go out and compete every day is what motivates everyone else.”
Entering Tuesday night’s game against Shawnee Mission East, Mauck was not only leading the Vikings, but leading the Sunflower League in scoring with 17.6 points per game. She also ranked seventh with 6.7 rebounds per game. Teammate Kenzie Loe is the league’s leading rebounder at 8.2 per game.
The Vikings will need Mauck now more than ever as they enter the heart of Sunflower League play, where they are one of six one-loss teams battling behind undefeated Olathe South. The Vikings are 8-4 overall.
“It’s exciting,” Aldrich said. “I have all of them still on my schedule, which is a daunting task. There are a lot of good players and a lot of good teams in the Sunflower League.”
The Vikings enter the season’s final stretch with a little momentum from a pair of victories against Eastern Kansas League foes Blue Valley and Blue Valley Northwest. SM West had won three of its last four games entering Tuesday night.
“One of the things I stress with the girls is playing as well as we did at the end of the year, and we’ve come along pretty well,” Aldrich said. “We hit a couple games that we didn’t play very well, but I think we’ve turned it around.”
Games to watch
Leavenworth at Olathe South, 5:30 p.m. Friday
Last season, these two teams decided the Sunflower League. It very well could be the same scenario this season.
Olathe South and Leavenworth each enter with two losses, but for now the Falcons hold a slight edge in the Sunflower League. They are still undefeated at 4-0 and Leavenworth is 3-1 with a loss to Shawnee Mission Northwest.
Olathe South has three players averaging in double figures, with Kacey Kennett leading the attack. She is averaging 11.6 points per game. DejaNae Roebuck and Kala Holder are right behind her at 11.3 and 11.1 points per game, respectively.
Leavenworth has more name-recognition with three Division I signees, but the Pioneers are coming off a one-point loss to Maize. Tyler Johnson, who is Kansas-bound, is leading them with 11 points per game.
Bishop Miege at St. Thomas Aquinas, 7 p.m. Monday
The Eastern Kansas League’s top two teams also are about to clash in a much anticipated rematch.
Bishop Miege and St. Thomas Aquinas met on Jan. 16 and Miege emerged with a 45-37 victory. The Stags also handed Aquinas its first and only loss of the season.
Miege, which returned all but one player from its Kansas Class 4A Division I state championship team, has continued to roll through conference play and boasted a 12-0 record entering Tuesday night.
The Saints are not far behind, having bounced back from that loss with back-to-back victories. One of those wins was against Shawnee Mission Northwest, which only has two losses and is a top contender in the Sunflower League.