JACKSON TWP — It's one of the first things McKenna Gross is asked about these days.
It's something she'd like to forget.
“That's definitely going to haunt me,” said the senior point guard on the Seneca Valley girls basketball team. “Everyone is talking about it. They come up to me and mention it and I tell them I don't want to talk about it right now.”
For a competitor like Gross, it's like a dagger in the gut.
Gross finished her career with the Raiders with 988 career points — just 12 shy of becoming only the second player in school history to reach the 1,000-point milestone.
Gross, though, is keeping things in perspective. After all, she's still the second all-time leading scorer in school history.
She helped her team go 15-8 and reach the WPIAL 6A playoffs.
And she has been named the 2018-19 Butler County Girls Player of the Year.
“Right now, I've accepted it,” Gross said of falling just short of 1,000 points. “I'm cool with it. It does kill me, though, when I think about the free throws I missed and the layups I didn't finish and how last year we had a game canceled because of snow that was never made up.”
Gross, though, prefers to look at the impact she made in four years on the court for the Raiders.
And it certainly was a big impact.
“She was the steadying of the ship,” said Seneca Valley coach Todd Schoeffel. “Her ability to score, her ability to handle the ball and handle pressure made us better.”
Gross was a three-year starter for Seneca Valley.
Her breakout campaign came last year when she averaged 16.2 points per game.
She scored 15 points and had two assists and three rebounds per game this season.
But she meant more to the Raiders than mere numbers.
“She loves to play the game,” Schoeffel said. “She hates to lose.”
Gross committed full time to basketball early after dabbling with softball and soccer.
Those two sports didn't fuel her fire quite like basketball did.
Gross said being honored as Butler County player of the year is special to her.
“It honestly means a lot because of all the great players in Butler County,” Gross said.
Freeport junior Sidney Shemanski, A-C Valley senior Olivia Boocks, Mars senior Tai Johnson and the North Catholic junior duo of Tess Myers and Kylee Lewandowski were also considered for the award.
But Gross said the biggest honor she receives is when she reads quotes in the newspaper from opposing coaches lauding her, or when players on the other team approach her after the game to offer praise.
Bethel Park coach Jonna Burke was one such coach who heaped praise on Gross.
Burke, the former Butler coach, had her hands full against Gross and the Raiders in the WPIAL playoffs.
“It's not like we didn't know she was good coming into this game,” Burke said of Gross. “But we never had an answer for her.”
“I read articles,” Gross said. “I see the stuff other coaches say about me and it is truly humbling. And when players come up to you and tell you how well you played, it makes you feel good.”
Gross also took the season-ending loss to Bethel Park hard.
She hung on to her Seneca Valley jersey for as long as she could.
“I think I was the last one to turn it in,” Gross said, chuckling. “After that game, I was just crying and I couldn't stop. I was in disbelief that the season was over. I kept thinking, 'It couldn't be over.'”
Gross' career on the basketball court, however, is not.
She has received interest from many schools and said she is leaning toward Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
“I have to make a decision soon,” Gross said. “I've had a lot of Division III and NAIA schools contact me. I'll have to see how it plays out.”
Eagle Honor Roll
Following are the Seneca Valley, Mars and North Catholic players who were named to the Butler Eagle’s Girls Basketball Honor Roll.
Maddie Karchut (Seneca Valley), junior, 9.0 ppg., 6.0 rpg.
Bella Pelaia (Mars), junior, 14.0 ppg., 9.0 rpg., 81 percent foul shooter
Dani Short (North Catholic), senior, 11.8 ppg., 6.9 rpg.
Cassie Foster (North Catholic), junior, 7.6 ppg.
Tai Johnson (Mars), senior, 19.0 ppg., 2.0 apg., 85 percent foul shooter
Gretchen Koken (Seneca Valley), senior, 7.0 ppg., 5.0 rpg.
Kylee Lewandowski (North Catholic), junior, 15.0 ppg., 5.4 rpg.
Tess Myers (North Catholic), junior, 15.8 ppg., 5.8 rpg.
Emma Pospisil (North Catholic), junior, 4.5 ppg., 3.4 apg.
KEY: ppg.-points, apg.-assists, rpg.-rebounds, spg.-steals, bpg.-blocks