Soft-spoken Teresa Moenkedick said she was just getting open and her shots were going down.
That’s a simple way to explain how the junior point guard posted 40 points in the Verndale Pirates’ 71-57 Park Region Conference victory over New York Mills Jan. 3.
It’s the first time in Verndale head coach Art Schluttner’s tenure that a Verndale girl has scored 40 or more points.
“She just has been playing really well all season,” Schluttner said. “Her game has been a pleasant surprise.
“In that game her perimeter shots were going in and she was able to get to the rim and get some inside shots. I don’t know if it’s a school record, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it.”
Moenkedick went from averaging 12 points a game last year to averaging 25 points, six assists, five steals and four rebounds this year. Through 12 games, Moenkedick has already scored 298 points. She scored 300 all of last season.
“We don’t have as many seniors as we did last year,” said Moenkedick. “We only have one senior and one junior so I had to step up my game I guess.”
Moenkedick is shooting 43 percent from the field and 71 percent from the foul line. Her biggest improvement might be on defense. She added 10 steals in the New York Mills win.
“Defensively, she’s figured out she can get some steals and read passes well enough,” Schluttner said. “She’s scoring a lot more in transition because of it.
“She’s a very competitive player and works hard. Last year she stayed after practice and her and her sister and five or six other girls still stay after practice to shoot for a half-hour. She’s a leader. She’s a quiet leader, but the kids respect what she does. She is a team player and she finds the open person.”
Moenkedick tallied 21 points in Verndale’s 46-43 non-conference loss to Eagle Valley Jan. 6. She followed that with 20 points in a 58-53 victory over Swanville Tuesday.
“I just wanted to win more games than we did last year,” Moenkedick said. “We’ve won five so far and I wanted us to play as a team more and have fun as a team.”
Schluttner believes Moenkedick could be the second Verndale girl to reach 1,000 points, especially at the rate she’s going. The three-year starter would join Raya Kern as the only other Verndale girl to reach that scoring milestone.
“I knew she would be our leading scorer this year, but she was averaging 10 to 12 points a game last year,” said Schluttner “She’s a different player. She has a lot more confidence and she realizes she’s a lot quicker than girls she’s playing against.
“We do some different things to get her shots and she’s making her perimeter shots. Plus, she can take the ball all the way to the basket, get to the rim and still get her shot off easily despite only being 5-foot-5.
“I think, and you hate to say, but she’s a 3-year starter and hopefully she’ll go over 1,000 points either later this season or early next season. As much as she has changed her game from last year you expect her to keep improving.
“She’s been a special player this year. Few players are as talented as she has been, Plus, she’s a good role model and just a great kid.”
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Tatum Sheley, Pine River-Backus, scored 22 points against Northland and 29 against Blackduck.
Brittany Kelly, Pine River-Backus, finished with 30 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists and seven steals in two wins last week.
Emily Miron, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds and nine blocked shots against Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.
Mikayla Michaletz, Aitkin, finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds against Ogilvie.
Gymnastics: Rachelle LeBlanc, Little Falls, won the uneven bars and floor exercise to capture the all-around title at the Park Rapids Invite.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5856.