For Mexico senior basketball shooting guard Raigan Playter, not only was she in the fortunate position of knowing she would be playing college basketball in the fall, but of also having a choice of where that dream would be coming true.
"I'll be attending Culver-Stockton College, but I was also considering William Woods and Hannibal-La Grange," said Playter Friday at the high school. "Initially I thought it was going to be William Woods I wanted to go to, but then my Parents and I went to Culver-Stockton and once I got there I instantly felt at home. I loved the campus and I loved the people. Everyone was really nice. I connected with the girls on the team really well, also."
Last season the Lady Wildcats, which compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, finished with a record of 19-14 overall, 12-12 Heart of America Athletic Conference. This put Culver-Stockton in a three-way tie for seventh place in its 13-team league with Baker and Missouri Valley according to heartofamericaconference.org behind first-place William Penn, 30-3, 22-2, runner-up MidAmerica Nazarene, 25-6, 21-3, and Central Methodist, 20-12, 15-9.
"I'll be majoring in Special Education. (The coach and I) have actually talked a lot. She does have a game plan for me coming in, so we'll see how it goes," Playter said. "The campus (at Culver-Stockton) is up on a hill. You can see all of Canton. Everything is very well taken care of. That was very nice. I think I've definitely had a lot of good competition coming into college. There have been a lot of different challenges and different people that have prepared me for this."
To start this school year Playter helped the Mexico softball team go 27-4 overall and win the Class 3 state title. Among the highlights were a 13-game win streak to end the season that featured a final victory over Oak Grove 5-0 on Oct. 27 that was preceded by wins against Sullivan 3-0 on Oct. 26 in the semifinals and St. Charles 6-1 on Oct. 20 in sectionals.
"I definitely had a very good senior season. I got to win a state championship with the softball team, which was awesome," said Playter. "You always get knocked down, no matter what you're doing. The hard part is getting back up. All of my teammates have always pushed me to get back up and keep going. I've been playing a long time and I really do feel like I'm ready to make the jump from high school to college. This has always been a dream of mine so its great that I'm finally here."
In her career on the hardwood at Mexico Playter's offensive output increased every season, each of which was spent with the varsity. This includes 2015-16 as a freshman when she averaged 5.2 points per game. Playter then upped that number to 7.5 ppg in 2016-17 and 9.9 in 2017-18 until she finally maxed out in 2018-19 when she averaged a career high 12.0 ppg.
"This is another exciting opportunity for us and for Raigan Playter and for girls basketball here at Mexico," said Mexico girls basketball coach Ed Costley. "It's good to see another girl extending her career. We always talk about the opportunities sports can lead you to and hopefully this leads Raigan to different avenues to finding out just a little bit more about herself. As a young lady she's grown and I'm proud to see her get this opportunity and use it for whatever she wants to."
For her career with the Lady Bulldogs Playter scored 836 points by making 136-of 410 (33 percent) of her two-point field goals and going 141-of-433 (33 percent) from three-point territory. In that same time she also managed to rack up 241 rebounds, 163 assists and 140 steals while shooting 69 percent from the free throw line.
"This past season we talked about her being able to put the ball on the floor. We know she can shoot the ball. That's something she's always been really good at," Costley said. "Being able to put the ball on the floor (is something she could work on). One of the things, and for any player moving to the next level, she may have to work on her quickness. If she can work that and combine it with a little dribble move I think it'll really open up her game. I think she has a pretty good chance to be successful there."
In her Swan Song performance with the Mexico girls Playter truly upped her game on every level to the point she shot 80 percent from the charity stripe, 74-for-92, while hitting 34 percent from behind the three-point line, 49-for-142. Along the way she also managed to make 47 steals, 49 assists, 57 boards, and a dozen blocks.
"I just really want to thank everyone whose been there to support me because taking a step back and seeing everyone I have behind me, it really is tremendous," Playter said.