PHOTOS COURTESY ANDY RENNECKE OF MITCHELL DAILY REPUBLIC
& CHRISTIAN BEGEMAN OF PRAIRIE STORM PRODUCTIONS
This past Tuesday, Jill Young made a date that had nothing to do with Valentines the next day. The date was made on a basketball court - with history.
With 6:34 to play in the third quarter of Mitchell Christian's 73-34 victory over, fittingly, Wakonda, Young flung in a jumper that leapfrogged her over Becky Flynn-Jensen to the top of South Dakota's all-time career scoring list. Flynn-Jensen, who had 3,268 points
by the time she finished her career at, yes, Wakonda, was on hand and presented Young with a special ball to commemorate the occasion.
Jill Young is presented a commemorative ball
by Becky Flynn-Jensen after breaking
Flynn-Jensen's scoring record (photo by
Andy Rennecke / Mitchell Daily Republic)
Flynn-Jensen went from Wakonda to become a team MVP for Creighton, which happens to be where Young will play her college basketball next year.
Young already was South Dakota's career leader in three-pointers and last year's Gatorade Player of the Year. Some believe she may be the best the state has ever produced. Her coach, George Erdahl, is among them.
"She's really impossible to defend," Erdahl said. "If you double team her, you have to put your best two defenders on her and that opens up everything else for her team."
In spite of the rest of South Dakota's best efforts, Young has been a virtual scoring machine - which, of course, one must be to amass what could be some 3,500 points during a high-school career. It is a career that spans six years, by the way, as did Flynn-Jensen's, who also played varsity ball from the seventh grade on.
Six years sounds like a long time to collect points, but consider that Young has averaged about 27 during that span. When Erdahl first coached her, she was a precocious 8th grader who averaged 29.2 points and was a second-team, all-state selection. The kid who played high-school varsity basketball with a savvy beyond her years is the daughter of Mitchell Christian's head boy's basketball coach, Tom Young.
"Jill grew up in a gym," Erdahl said. "She definitely learned to be around the game."
Erdahl says Young's unselfishness and court awareness produced seven to eight assists a game and a couple other 15-point scorers on the Mitchell Christian team that last year won its first-ever South Dakota Class B state championship. During the summer, Young also led the South Dakota Elite to a surprising tournament victory at the Miss Basketball Showcase. If Creighton can capture even a fraction of that magic, it may have signed itself quite a find, even at 5-7.
Then again, to paraphrase an old saying, it's not the size of the girl but the size of the heart in the girl. That, and about a million jump shots against competition, real and imagined, in gyms, empty and packed, in South Dakota.
Since this column is produced out on the Left Coast, you may occasionally get some East Coast Bias conspiracy theories here (Hey, you think the East Coast is going to complain about its own bias? Someone has to.). This week's rant is prompted by the participants announced this week for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-Star Game, to be held during the Final Four week in Cleveland. Only five players - Vicki Baugh of Sacramento, Calif.; Angie Bjorklund of Spokane, Wash.; Kelsey Bolte of Ida Grove, Iowa; Italee Lucas of Las Vegas, Nev., and Jeanette Pohlen of Brea, Calif. - hail from west of the
Mississippi. And apparently it helps the Western kids if they signed with a major Eastern power - ie, Baugh and Bjorklund with Tennesee and Lucas with North Carolina (though not to quibble at all with the selection of those three; the point is, would they have been otherwise noticed?). We could go on, but won't. ... One of those who could have made the WBCA list (and even had Eastern credentials, having signed wtih Georgia Tech) is Alex Montgomery of Tacoma, Wash., who has taken an unusual stance for a teenager. Montgomery, the No. 15 overall prospect in 2007, per HoopGurlz, was among five Lincoln High School players who refused to play a sub-district playoff game in support of their coach, Kevin Strozier, who has been placed on administrative leave Feb. 2 pending investigation of undisclosed irregularities. Lincoln lost the game by 12 points and Montgomery has been subjected to some criticism. In an era when loyalty seemed to have gone the way of basketball in skirts, we happen to admire Montgomery's stance. Some say she'd better honor Strozier by playing, but we ask - who would have noticed? ... Lynetta Kizer, the No. 7 overall prospect in the 2008 class, according to HoopGurlz.com, has had a rough junior season. After suffering a knee injury earlier in the year, she recently missed some time with an injured collarbone. Not to worry. During her first game back, she scored all of Potomac's 17 first-quarter points during her team's 67-44 victory over Woodbridge. The 6-3 Kizer finished with 32 points for the Dumfries, Va., team and even hit a three-pointer. Potomac, which opens district play on Monday, also was buoyed by the five points, six rebounds, three steals and seven assists from another Kizer, Quiana, Lynetta's younger sister. ... Skyline is looking more and more like the team to beat in Utah's 5A classification. The Eagles were 19-1 through Thursday's games and are led by Dani Peterson, a 6-1 post who might be the state's best prospect, and point guard Jenteal Jackson. Peterson, a junior, is averaging about 17.5 points. ... Megan Elliott, a 6-1 forward, finished her senior season at the Pace Academy in Atlanta with averages of 17.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.7 steals. She is being ardently pursued by Bucknell and Rice and has high interest in both.
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Glenn Nelson is the publisher of HoopGurlz.com and the editor-in-chief of Scout Media (www.Scout.com), an online sports network and magazine-publishing company and subsidiary of Fox Interactive Media. Glenn also founded and
the Dragons and Northwest HoopGurlz select girl's basketball teams. He previously was a longtime, national-award-winning basketball columnist and writer for The
Times. His work also has appeared in several national magazines and books. He is co-author of "Rising Stars: The Ten Best Players in the NBA" (Rosen Publishing,
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.