Maggie Taylor breaks school basketball records

Esther Noe
Hill City High School senior Maggie Taylor will soon move on from the Gins Gym court to pursue college basketball, but not without leaving her mark in Hill City. In the last year she broke five school records and grew a list of other accolades. 
Taylor lives between Hill City and Rapid City with her parents, Shane and Rachel Taylor. She attended school in the Hill City School District from kindergarten through high school. 
“I just love the town and the atmosphere, and obviously you get a good education here. It’s more individualized I think compared to bigger schools,” said Taylor. 
Taylor’s career in basketball began in kindergarten when she started playing through a church in Rapid City. 
“It was fun this senior year having that opportunity to play with pretty much that core group of girls that started in kindergarten. Now to be seniors is just crazy. I feel like just yesterday we were playing on the carpet at the church,” Taylor said. 
Some of Taylor’s favorite memories were the summer team camps, but she said, “I loved it all. It was all a great experience.” 
After recovering from an injury, Taylor was invited to play AAU basketball for a team out of Sioux Falls called South Dakota Network. 
“I didn’t even really have to try out. They just said I had a spot if I wanted it,” said Taylor.
She started the summer before her sophomore year of high school and continued for three years. 
During the summers, Taylor said, “I would have to travel every week down to Sioux Falls. My mom and I would drive. We would have practice Friday night, and then Saturday morning we would have practice and then we would go home.” 
From there they would travel to eight tournaments over the summer anywhere from Ames, Iowa to Chicago, Il., to Indianapolis, Ind., to Minneapolis, Minn., to Omaha, Neb. A lot of college coaches came to the tournaments. 
“It was a great experience. Initially, it was really intimidating because I’m like, ‘Whoa, I’m a small town girl from South Dakota, and this place is huge,’” said Taylor. “You get to experience all sorts of different playing styles and all sorts of different competition, which is amazing. It was so fun. I really enjoyed it.” 
Taylor said it was a big commitment, but it was worth it. It also allowed her to explore cities and spend time with her mom in the car. 
When it comes to basketball, Taylor most enjoys playing with a team of girls who are all invested in a common goal and working together. 
“I think being a role model for the younger kids through sports is really important, and it’s become really important to me personally,” said Taylor. “I also just love that it’s a game that you can never understand it all. There’re so many aspects of it.”
“This year having the opportunity to have Anna Eckert as my coach was really amazing. We have a great relationship, and I’m just thankful that she stepped up and made it really fun. I think we all learned a lot and grew as people as well,” said Taylor. 
Taylor received a call from Eckert around 9 p.m. one night. Eckert asked if Taylor had a minute to talk about all the records she broke this season, and Taylor said, “I was not even aware.” 
“It wasn’t really until this year that I truly had a lot of confidence in myself to be more aggressive and be more of that leader in the game,” said Taylor. 
Taylor said some of her growth was due to gaining more experience and maturity. 
“Anna also did a great job of empowering me to just play my game and have fun and be aggressive, having that mindset that the team needs it,” said Taylor. “She really was an amazing coach. I had a lot of fun.”
Eckert said, “Maggie has been an integral part of the Ranger girls basketball team the last five years. It has been fun to watch how much she has grown, even within this last year. Maggie has a quiet, calm confidence that shows in her actions both on and off the court. She has always been a hard worker and continues to show that to those younger than her. I am excited to see what she will do at the next level.”
Taylor served as the team captain for two years and said, “I love having that role of being a leader, and I’m a leader that likes to lead by example.”
In 2021-22 she was an all conference honorable mention at the Black Hills Conference, and in 2022-23 and 2023-24, she was named all conference. 
“It’s an honor to even have that be awarded to me, and I’m very thankful for it,” said Taylor. 
In 2023, Taylor tied the individual school record for free throws in a game at 12. 
Taylor was also named to the Class A All-State Third Team and to the State East West All Star Game, which took place April 19. 
For the 2023-24 season, Taylor, at 6-2, averaged 16.9 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
She broke the individual school record for most rebounds in a game with 21, most rebounds in a season with 277 and most rebounds in a career with 812. 
“I love rebounding the ball so I feel very good about that in my heart,” said Taylor. 
Taylor also broke the school record for most points in a season with 364 and free throws made in a season with 87. She ranks fourth for all-time scoring in school history at 873. 
“I just hope that I’m a role model that empowers the younger kids to dream big and have fun in life and just put in the work. It’s worth it, and it feels great and you get to enjoy those opportunities you get through your hard work,” said Taylor. 
Taylor will soon enjoy the opportunities of her own hard work. Through playing with South Dakota Network, Taylor was recruited to play basketball for Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa with a full-ride scholarship. 
Initially, Taylor had never heard of the school. 
 “I told my parents, ‘We might as well just go check it out,’ and we did. It just felt like home. I just had a great feeling in my heart,” said Taylor. “I just loved the culture. And their team’s competitive in their Missouri Valley Conference, and they’ve made it to the NCAA tournament the last two years. And I also can get a good education because that’s truly what going to college and the future’s all about.” 
“I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to play basketball while I continue my education,” said Taylor. 
She said it will be a lot more commitment to be an athlete and a student, but the reward will be bigger as wekk. 
“It’s like my job for four years so I’m really excited to experience it with people I know I’m going to get along with and have fun with,” said Taylor. “I’ve spent a lot of time in the gym. It’s fun to have it pay off and to obviously help with my future.”
Taylor plans to study business, but “After that, I don’t know where life will take me.”
She moves to campus June 2 and will start right away by helping with basketball camps for children. Then, in July she will start a couple of classes to get acclimated before the school year starts. 
“To the Hill City community, they’ve been great in both volleyball and basketball. They’re so supportive. It’s such a small community that you feel the support all around,” said Taylor. “I’m thankful for every single coach I’ve had throughout my career of basketball so far. I’m just thankful for the time and energy they put in. It’s not easy being a coach. There’s a lot of time commitment, and you have to be away from your family a lot too. It doesn’t go unseen, and I just hope they know they’re really appreciated.”
My teammates—I love them to death. They’re just best friends always. I’m so thankful I got to play with them and watch them grow.” 

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