Mackenzie Latt’s basketball career seemed perfect. As a junior, she had become Sussex (Wis.) Hamilton’s all-time leading scorer and was a unanimous Division 1 all-state selection in Wisconsin.
But a couple of months into her senior year, Latt’s father got a job in the Kalamazoo area. Many kids would have opted to live with a teammate’s family and stayed put.
But Latt is not most kids — in mid-November she enrolled at Richland Gull Lake.
“Staying was an option, but at the same time it wasn’t,” she said. “It was there, but me and my family are really close-knit, and it just didn’t seem right to live apart. My brother is a freshman, so he was going to start out at a new school anyway. It made more sense that if we both moved and both kind of worked through the transition together.”
Wait a minute. Doesn’t Latt realize that teenage girls, especially seniors, don’t acknowledge the existence of a younger brother, much less a freshman?
“We’re actually really close,” she said. “We talk to each other all of the time. It’s a little different how close we are.”
There is a lot different about Latt, 6-feet-1, who signed a national letter of intent with Davidson.
Gull Lake coach Mike Balcom has had a few girls move into the district over the years so he took a wait-and-see approach with Latt on the first day of practice.
“She was shooting, and I was watching her move around and I could tell she had some skills,” he said. “After Day 1, I could say she has the best skill set that I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach.”
Latt is averaging 17.2 points and 12 rebounds, and Gull Lake is 14-1 and ranked No. 10 in Class A.
Changing schools, especially early in your senior year, can ruin high school for some kids, but Latt viewed it as an adventure.
“It helped that I could jump into a sport right away, and the team has been absolutely phenomenal in helping me transition not only into basketball, but into school,” she said. “The girls on the team have gone above and beyond what was asked of them in terms of including me.”
It was easy for the Gull Lake students and teachers to warm up to Latt, a 4.1 student who scored a 32 on the ACT. But petty jealousies could have ruined everything.
The 17 points Latt is averaging could have been scored by someone else had Lott not transferred, but there hasn’t been a hint of strife, a tribute to the Gull Lake kids. It also speaks volumes of Latt.
“For all the things that she’s accomplished in basketball and the skilled player that she is and how great she is at playing the game, she is a much, much better person,” Balcom said. “She is a wonderful young lady. She is a great teammate and a great person.”
That might be why that even though Latt misses her former teammates, she has embraced the move.
“The players have been super nice and helpful, and the coaching staff has been great, too,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for more from them. They’ve been awesome. I’m having a blast here.”
It has worked out pretty well for the basketball team, too.
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.