Athlete of the Week: Paige Mriden, Roosevelt Rough Riders
Roosevelt's Paige Mriden played one of the best Class AA girls basketball tournament's ever.
The 5'7" senior guard scored 76 points (22 of 41 from the field), and knocked down 14 three-pointers last weekend at Frost Arena in Brookings.
"Well, I knew that my games were being numbered, and that I only had few to go. I tried to make the most of it, and once I heard I was getting close to the record, I made sure I beat that," says Mriden.
Mriden was edged by Mitchell's Macy Miller, who scored 103 points in the Class AA tournament.
As her coach, Chris Clark shares it was really exciting to watch Mriden go on a scoring surge at the Class AA tournament.
"Great fun. Any coach loves it when such a hard worker achieves something like that on such a big stage. I was very proud, but even more happy for her to do what she did."
In the first game of the tournament, Mriden went head-to-head with Mitchell's Macy Miller, and it was one of the best match-ups of the season. Down 38-21 at half, Mriden was the Rider's spark plug in the third quarter. She hit a trio of three-pointers to get the Riders within one. Then, in the fourth quarter, she caught a pass from Tagyn Larson and went coast-to-coast for a layup and one to give Roosevelt their first lead, 48-47. Mitchell ended up winning, 70-65, but the two guards put on a very special performance to watch.
"It's always a really cool experience, and I think some people shy away from that but it is something that is cool. I played with her in (Dakota) Schoolers a couple of years ago, and we were on the same team. So, it is always a great experience to get to play against a great player like her," tells Mriden.
"I think to even be in the same conversation as Macy is a huge complement. For a while in the 3rd quarter, I couldn't believe what I was watching. I can honestly say that it was just those two going at it, and there was very little coaching at that point. Very cool to watch, and I'm happy so many people enjoyed it," says Clark.
Miller scored 38 points, and Mriden scored 29 points in the opening game of the Class AA girls basketball tournament. Miller scored 103 tournament points, edging Mriden's 78 total points.
Mriden's superb Class AA tournament ended her high school career, and plans to play collegiately at the University of Sioux Falls.
Paige's basketball career started when she was little and her parents signed her up to play. Her father has been one of her biggest supporters.
"My dad has always been my coach, my No. 1 fan, and teammate since I was little. He's taught me a lot."
Basketball has taken a lot of hard work, and it has all payed off for Mriden.
"I did everything I could. I went to all the open gyms, everything on and off the court, and all the behind the scenes stuff like acceleration and individual workouts."
Mriden is a very good shooter, and especially from long range. She is great off the dribble, can drive inside, and her ability to draw fouls to get to the free throw line makes it tough for opponents to guard her on a nightly basis.
"Paige has the right mentality to be a great shooter. She has no fear in taking big shots and isn't afraid to miss. Again, she worked hard to make herself better and became way more than a shooter, a very tough defender, too," tells Clark.
Mriden's hard work on and off the court makes her a unique player and a great leader for her teammates.
"I think I really stepped up, and showed everyone what it takes to be a leader by doing it on and off the court. I hope my teammates would say I am a good leader and a good person to be around and someone they can look up to," says Mriden.
"She is the player on your team that is doing all the extra work, like going to the gym, and working hard in the off-season. She made herself better and inspired others to work harder. I think her teammates have a lot of respect for how hard she works. She is a great vocal leader, but without a negative tone," adds Clark.
Clark loved the opportunity to coach Mriden for four years, and as a player, she showed a lot of improvement.
"She had a steady progression from start to finish, even though she came in as a good player as a freshman. She always wanted the best for her team, constantly maturing, and improving. She became a coach on the floor and learned more and more how tough she can be."
Her success at Roosevelt on and off the court has prepared her for future success to play college basketball.
"Paige has played a lot of basketball, but she will definitely have more to learn at the next level. We hope she has gained a solid foundation to build upon at USF. No doubt, she is a great school player. She will make the transition to college with a team full of great players. I know she will work very hard," says Clark.
"It put me in a lot of different experiences and situations that I think will come up in college and will give me a head start on how to handle and prepare me," shares Mriden.
Before focusing on basketball, Mriden was in student council and volleyball at Roosevelt. She loves cheering on Duke when watching college basketball, and cannot wait to play at USF next year.