PEQUOT LAKES -- She's already scored 1,000 points in her high school career and was selected as one of the top 100 girls' basketball players in Minnesota. So what's left for Pequot Lakes standout Heather Neznik?
"Just to play well," the senior forward said. "I want to make my defense better, and I'm looking to shoot more from the outside. It's getting there but I still need a lot of work.
"I'm just going to keep playing hard. I don't want to think I've already accomplished everything. I want to keep playing hard and help the team to get further on. We want to make it to state and make if further than we did last year. We've been working real hard to do that."
"She is just a good competitor," Pequot head coach Bill Larson said. "All through the years that I've coached her and watched her there is a level of competition she likes to play at. She stays consistent but she likes to play in the bigger games.
"One of the best things on her resume is her defensive play because she can guard shorter players, which allows me to go with a taller lineup and still be able to defend."
The Patriots are ranked second in the Class 3A poll and remain undefeated in the early stages of the season. It helps that the team has another top 100 player (Brianna Biebighauser), but Neznik believes it's not just the two who are giving opponents trouble.
"With our team, opponents have five people to worry about," said Neznik. "It's not any two or three, it's everyone out there that makes it hard for our opponents. In the games this year we've had three or four people score in double figures. We have a great bench."
Neznik scored 10 points against Aitkin and 22 against Moose Lake-Willow River to help the Patriots capture the Aitkin tournament championship.
"She's always going to show up and play consistent basketball," Larson said about the five-year varsity player. "I can always count on her for 10 boards and double figures in points. Whether we focus the offense around her or not she will always get the stats for us."
Neznik plans to attend either Moorhead State University or Concordia College to study physical education. She would like to play basketball or softball in college.
Although Neznik has already scored 1,000 points she's still working on her shot, saying her outside game has improved since last year.
She wants to top off her senior year with another trip to the state tournament, something she enjoyed last year when the Patriots went for the first time in school history.
"It was exciting, just knowing that you actually made it there and you had been dreaming about going for so long and it finally came true was cool," Neznik said.
"It would be a good way to end my career here. It would be more exciting than last year knowing it's your last year."
Other notable performances:
Basketball -- Aitkin's Mandy Boyd dropped in 23 points in a 64-62 loss to Pequot Lakes.
Biebighauser scored 24 points to lead the Patriots over Moose Lake-Willow River.
Jennifer Straughn of Aitkin scored 23 points in a win over International Falls.
Shiela Stegora of Pierz scored 27 points in a 41-34 win over St. Cloud Cathedral. She also added nine rebounds, three assists and four steals.
Hockey -- Pequot Lakes' Samantha Welle had a hat trick in a 4-3 win over Columbia Heights.
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