Prairie Home senior Rachel Distler is one of the reasons why the Lady Panthers made their first ever trip to the state tournament.
A four-year starter for the Lady Panthers at the point guard and shooting guard position, Distler also finished her career with 1,846 points along with 447 rebounds, 331 steals and 183 assists.
Distler also scored in double figures in 30 out of 32 games and had her best game against Higbee in the first round of districts, where she pulled in 27 points and 12 rebound, and in the district championship game, where she hit numerous big time shots and had 27 points and seven boards. She had three double-doubles on the season.
Prairie Home coach Dalton Armontrout said Distler has an extremely high basketball IQ.
“She can score from just about anywhere, behind the arc and in the post,” Armontrout said. “She really stepped up this year in big ways. She was more of a leader this year. She scored for us in big moments when we needed it and she rebounded better, especially for a guard. She defended the post area this year, because being one of our tallest players. She was our quarterback of the offense. She did a great job at reading defenses. She can see the play happen before it happened. She was asked to do a lot this year and she stepped up in a big way. She was fun to watch play. And I might add is that most of the games we played, she had at least one girl on her the entire game. One of the best players that I have coached. Very honored to coach her and very proud of her to receive this honor.”
Distler also had a great year on the court this past season while finishing with 580 points for an average of 18.1 ppg along with 193 rebounds for 6.0 rpg and 100 steals for 3.1 spg. She also led the Lady Panthers from the three-point arc and foul line, hitting 84 of 207 shots from the three for 41 percent and 152 of 197 from the line for 77 percent.
Distler said her reaction was excitement and contentment on learning that she had been selected to the all-state team. “I really feel like being selected tied the Final Four experience all together,” Distler said.
Distler also answered questions about her career at Prairie Home:
Q: What has been the highlight of your career as a team and individual?
A: My senior year was definitely a highlight. Making it to the Final Four and being selected to the all-state team was a dream and I was lucky enough to achieve both my senior year.
Q: If you can remember, what was your best game and explain to me why?
A: I thought I would be saying junior year’s district championship where I had 29 points, but I think this year’s district championship has surpassed that. I felt like I stepped up when our other girl went out with four fouls and hit some key threes to keep us ahead of St. Elizabeth to win by three.
Q: Who was the biggest influence on you playing basketball and why?
A: All of my coaches that I’ve had at Prairie Home as well as my summer coaches. Basketball doesn’t run in my family at all. My brother and I are the only ones to play, so I didn’t have overbearing parents pushing me. They just gave me the support I needed. But definitely coaches who saw something in me. I owe it to them.
Q: What did you like the most about playing basketball?
A: I love the energy of the game! I could never get into track or softball because it’s so slow. But I love the game and how fancy you can be with the ball and then turn around and beat someone off of pure fundamentals. It’s always exciting.
Q: Who was the biggest rival for you and why?
A: Jamestown and Pilot Grove were huge rivals. Jamestown was bigger because we were so close and we've always been "enemies". But I loved the competition I got from them through my four years.
Q: What was the one thing you wanted to accomplish in high school basketball but didn’t?
A: I honestly wanted to make all-state every year. It was always a dream of mine.But being able to play against other all staters and to see how they play is truly humbling and made me realize how blessed I am to play among them.
Q: What are you going to miss the most about playing high school basketball?
A: I'm going to miss the tight-knit community and how everyone came to support us. I'm also going to miss the hype before the game. Like everyone in the schools asks about the opposing team and if we're going to beat them. It just gets you ready!
Q: Did you have any pre-game rituals that you went through?
A: I never really had pre-game rituals. I've never been superstitious.
Q: What are your future plans in basketball and explain to me?
A: I plan to either play at Culver-Stockton College or North Central Missouri College while going to school for pre-Med.