Over the summer, New Underwood girls' basketball player Jaedyn Finkbeiner attempted to take 15,000 practice shots, or roughly 500 per day.
She finished first on her team with roughly 13,000 shots taken, and even though it's late January and the season is 12 games in, the remaining 2,000 still bother her.
"I really wish I could have gotten it. If we had two more weeks of summer I could have," she said. "My goal is to become a better outside shooter, I’ve been post dominant, and in the last couple of years I’ve been trying to move out and add some range to my game too."
There was something else fueling her fire in the hot summer months, when some can be found by the pool or going on vacation. It was the way the season ended last year.
Every year the Lady Tigers set the same goals. Win the conference, win the region, and go to the state tournament. Last year, New Underwood failed to make the Class B state tournament.
Finkbeiner remembers going there during her sophomore season. She's a senior now, and she doesn't want her last game of high school basketball to be anywhere other than in Huron during the state tournament in March.
"This year we’ve grown so much and worked hard all offseason. Realizing I’m a senior, it’s my last year so I have to step it up and play the best I can," she said. "We’ve grown closer, we know the other person has our back, we work every practice, we come in as a team and leave as a team."
With 20 points and 12 rebounds in a 53-21 win over Oelrichs Thursday and a 17 point, 10 rebound game win a 50-27 win over Wall Friday, the Lady Tigers moved to 11-1 and part of that is how well rounded Finkbeiner's game has become.
"The big thing is people think of her as a scorer, and she scores well, but she’s a defensive player as well," New Underwood coach, and Jaedyn's father, Stacey Finkbeiner said. "She's the complete package, she’s not afraid to take a charge, she’s not afraid to dive on the floor after a loose ball, she’ll do whatever it takes."
Whatever it takes has included improving her outside shooting game. All those shots in the summer have paid off, as the usually post-specific Jaedyn even asked if she could be outside the 3-point line for a portion of the Wall win Saturday.
It worked out, she hit three 3-pointers.
"We’ve kind of changed our motto. If teams are going to clog the paint than we’re going to send our big girl out because Jaedyn can shoot the ball," Stacey Finkbeiner said. "I have other bigs who can play low and that helps us space the ball and it creates openings for other people. She’s willing to take less shots if it helps other people."
She is averaging more than 19 points per game, close to 10 rebounds per game and more than four blocks per game this season.
While the scoring may be more glamorous, especially with the addition of a 3-point shot to her game, Jaedyn said she prefers doing the dirty work of defense and rebounding.
Even if it means going against players who taller than the 6-foot Jaedyn is.
"Defense is huge and I don’t like the other teams to get second shots, so I learned that I have to go and get every rebound and treat every (ball) like it’s mine," she said. "I just have to work harder than everyone else, just keep working on the boards and keep moving. I have to go into attack mode and block people out."
That toughness was taught long before she got to the high school level, according to Stacey.
"She grew up with three older brothers who she played with all the time so she’s not going to back down, she likes the challenges," he said. "There’s some very talented players in our region and area and she’s gone up against a lot of the better teams and players in our area and she’s held her own.
"Her attitude is she wants to be the best player on the floor, and if you go out with that attitude and you believe in yourself and you’re confident; it might not be in scoring points. It might be in rebounds, or blocks, or assists and steals. She does a good job in all those areas."
The Lady Tigers are on the road Saturday against Harding County.
Other athletes considered:
Ryder Kirsch, St. Thomas More boys' basketball: Kirsch had a big game even in limited action in a big win Tuesday over Lead-Deadwood, and helped the Cavaliers nearly come back to top the No. 1 ranked team in Class A, Tea Area, Saturday.
Kirsch scored 13 points while resting most of the second half in a 78-23 win Tuesday over the Golddiggers. He finished the week with 23 points and 15 rebounds in a 58-54 loss to the Titans.
Colton Jackson, Douglas wrestling: Jackson was one of two Patriots who took home titles at the River City Rumble over the weekend.
Jackson bested Jaredon Dosch of Belle Fourche at 152 pounds.
Shay Trimble, Rapid City Stevens gymnastics: Trimble appeared in her first meet of the season at the Gym-O-Rama in Rapid City over the weekend.
Trimble led the Raiders by finishing fourth in the all-around with 34.825 points, third on the floor exercise with 9.6500 points, fifth on the balance beam (8.7000) and sixth on the vault (9.1500).