Game on Fire

Junior Garners Widespread Recognition in Basketball, Has Her Sight Fixed on Winning State

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Photo by Anna Pribyla

Unyielding to the opposing team, junior shooting and point guard Gisella Maul dribbles down the court. On Nov. 30, the varsity girls won their non-conference, home game against Waco University 59-29, adding to their overall 17-0 ranking but not contributing to district. “I feel like we’ve had a pretty tough schedule and they are all really good teams that we’ve played,” Maul said. “If anything the focus is more real [this year]. We still have something to prove and so we’ve been more focused and more determined because we know that we’re not just satisfied with winning one state championship, we have bigger goals in mind.”

Anthony Whiting, Reporter

Attention focused during the final quarter, she dribbles the ball to shoot from the three-point line. With double the responsibility of the normal player, she maintains a close watch on her teammates’ movements in order to transition smooth passes.

This year, the varsity girls basketball team has a perfect record of 16-0 and is ranked first in the state for the 5A division. Junior shooting and point guard Gisella Maul was awarded Basketball State Championships MVP last season and has continued to break new tournament and school records this season.

Recently, Maul has surpassed 1,000 points and is nearing the goal of 500 rebounds to be completed by January at the current rate. Maul broke the record of points from the free throw line in a single game, scoring between 22 and 26 points each game, and beating the previous school record of 18 set in 2007.

“To accomplish a goal like that is amazing, and it is not one that many people get to do,” Maul said. “There’s no secret to it, it’s just taking the right shots, making smart passes, and it’s also my teammates that have given me the good looks that I have gotten to accomplish 1,000 points. Rebounding is all about effort, so we are always taught to go 110% every play so that’s all rebounding is about: going hard every single game.”

Recognized as the “Road To State,” the Lady T-Wolves won the McDonald’s Invitational Championship signifying a positive sign for competing at State. Maul came in fifth place for total points for the tournament with 136, and the tournament record for free throw at 54-60 points for the entire duration.

“We’ve had a pretty tough schedule,” Maul said. “I’d say the game for us that really put us on the map was the Duncanville game, as at the time, they were ranked twelfth in the nation, and it was the championship in one of our tournaments so it was a pretty big deal for us to beat them. It’s for sure a blessing [to break records].”

According to Maul, her passion for basketball emerged when she was four, when her siblings’ enjoyment for playing basketball sparked her own interest. She also said she enjoyed spending time training with her dad.

To build a strong team you all have to be dialed in and focused. I feel like that’s what really separates us. We all know where we want to be at the end of the season and that’s competing for a state championship.”

— Gisella Maul

“Ever since then, I knew [basketball] was gonna be my thing,” Maul said. “I feel like I picked it up immediately and I haven’t looked back since. [My siblings] played in middle school really, so I really only saw them play when I was younger, but we’d always be in the gym together, we’d workout every single day and I really feel I looked up to them and they’ve always been my biggest influences in life for sure.”

In addition to breaking school records, Maul has been scouted by D1 university basketball programs, such as University of Texas, Alabama, Florida, Kansas State and Baylor. Currently Maul said she is not ready to commit because she wants to keep her options open.

“It’s a big thing to have the chance to go to college for free, and to be able to do what you love so much,” Maul said. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to go visit different colleges and get to meet new coaches, so I feel like that’s been something special to me. I’m interested in studying sports business. I’ve always wanted to own my own company, and I just love everything [involving] sports.”

According to Maul, the community has been an important factor contributing to her individual success. According to her, the level of team bonding this team has is unmatched in comparison to other teams.

“To build a strong team you all have to be dialed in and focused,” Maul said. “I feel like that’s what really separates us. We all know where we want to be at the end of the season and that’s competing for a state championship. Last year was a really good year for us because we had so much strong leadership and we really learned from the seniors that graduated [last year], but we were also so close as a team and we’ve just carried that over onto this year. That’s why we’re doing so well right now.”

Point guard Molly Ly has been playing against Maul since the third grade, having been club teammates in eighth grade and now varsity high school teammates.

“[Maul] supports me in the court by always being there when I need someone to count on and always looking for ways to get her teammates the ball in the right position,” Ly said. “Our bond is really special since we used to play against each other. We’ve become really good friends after last year with us being the only point guard on the team. She never fails to put a smile on my face and is the best competitor I know.”

For the future, Maul’s goals include winning another state title and finishing out her junior year season. She said she believes that replicating the past and present successes will help her senior season, while also assisting her in finalizing her commitment for a collegiate career.

“I think the goal for me is to make my decision about a year from now,” Maul said. “Right now I’m at the stage where I’m just trying to continue building relationships with coaches and go visit different colleges in different states and just see what I like. I’d say about a year from now I’ll be ready to make a decision. I’m just looking to take this year and give it my best and then next year I plan on doing the exact same thing, but I’m also going to be trying to get ready for college and so that’s going to be something that’s a big focus for me.”

According to varsity women’s basketball head coach Donny Ott, Maul has been a beneficial influence on the team for the past three years.

“G has been a huge influence on this team as a captain,” Ott said. “Her work ethic, competitiveness, and humility feed into our program. She’s grown as a player being surrounded by great teammates who play at a high level and have high expectation as well. G has certainly challenged our coaches to continue to grow.”

Maul said she credits her success to all the support and help she’s received along the way to shape her into a better athlete. To athletes interested in playing high school basketball, confidence is key according to Maul, a theme repeated to her by mentors throughout her career.

“My advice for people that are trying to go somewhere with basketball: keep working hard and don’t let anyone tell you something that you’re not,” Maul said. “I’d say confidence is a big thing that I’ve been told. I’ve had some good people that I’ve been able to look up to and they’ve all told me that confidence is a big thing and [keeping] yourself in the gym is another big thing.”