Paige Furstenau

Paige Furstenau has been one of the most dominant players on Neligh-Oakdale girl’s basketball team for the past three years and just hit one of the biggest milestones for a high school player — the 1,000 point club.

Heading into Saturday’s game against Stuart, Furstenau needed 21 points to eclipse the milestone. With just over four minutes left in the game, she found herself with 19. She soon drove to the basket for a layup, banking the ball off the glass right into the hoop and hitting her mark exactly.

“Getting my 1,000th point was kind of surreal because it has always been one of my goals and I finally accomplished it,” Furstenau said. “I just keep reliving the moment over in my head, it was one of the best feelings.”

The crowd was screaming with pride, but the loudest cheers came from her team.

“I thought I would hear the crowd over everyone, but our girls on the bench and on the court were freaking out the most,” coach Tanner Knutson said. “It was pretty awesome to see it and I can’t describe how proud I was.”

As a player, hitting this milestone is huge, but it was equally as exciting for her coach.

“She’s been a fun girl to coach and I’m proud of her for completing one of her personal goals,” co-head coach Tanner Knutson said. “I believed it was going to happen just because of the way she works and puts in that time during the off season. She spends hours in her gym shooting, and in the summer, she works with great basketball-minded trainers. She wanted to improve each and every year and not just settle for mediocrity.”

Furstenau credits her support system for much of her success.

“My parents have been my biggest mentors over the past four years,” she said. “They are the people who support me constantly and push me to be better. They have always believed in me and I appreciate everything they have done for me.”

Furstenau’s coach said he was happy to see her dedication to the sport pay off.

“I’ve been coaching Paige for three years and she has been a hard worker,” Knutson said. “She’s one of those kids that put in the extra work and has to perfect everything. She has that mamba mentality, that killer instinct of doing whatever it takes to win and leaving everything on the court. Her drive and passion for basketball is above and beyond.”

Furstenau recognized that it took a great deal of effort over the past four years to help her dream come true.

“I have worked very hard over the years, put in many extra hours during the season and the off season,” she said. “I’ve set many goals and pushed myself to get to this point in my career. If I wasn’t satisfied with how I was performing, I would work harder. Now all my hard work is starting to pay off. Getting my 1,000th point has always been one of my goals, and I honestly didn’t know if I would get it. I really wanted to, so I put in the extra work.”

Furstenau, who is committed to Nebraska Wesleyan for basketball, will finish her senior season at Neligh-Oakdale while trying to compete for a state berth for the first time in her high school career.

“I would like to thank my parents, especially my dad,” Furstenau said. “He is the person who would always rebound for me and helped me with drills. I would also like to thank my grandparents, coaches and teammates. I am very thankful for everything these people have done for me. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. They pushed me to be better and they helped get me the ball. I wouldn’t be at this point in my career without any of these people.”