(Editor's note: The following story can be found in the 2019 Fastbreak magazine, an annual supplement to The Jamestown Sun.)
Paige Schmidt converted an efficient 3 of 4 from 3-point range in University of Jamestown’s two-point victory over No. 7 Dakota Wesleyan on Nov. 20 at Harold Newman Arena.
Scoring baskets from the perimeter is what the senior guard does for Jimmie women’s basketball, and when head coach Thad Sankey’s 10-athlete rotation is each executing their specific jobs the Jimmies win games. UJ was 6-2 overall and 2-1 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference on Nov. 25, including its huge upset win over the DWU Tigers.
“That’s a big thing that coach pushes is we all have our roles, and that’s my role,” said Schmidt, a former Kidder County girls basketball standout from nearby Tappen. “It’s nice to have a concrete role on the team, where you know what it is and when you’re executing it. That’s when we go out and beat Dakota Wesleyan because we’re playing together and everyone is accomplishing their tasks that they need to perform”
Jamestown lost seven games before it had six wins last winter, finishing at 14-16 and on the outside looking in at the GPAC postseason tournament after an 8-14 campaign in the toughest league in NAIA Division II women's hoops. Fast forward to last month, UJ ranked around the nation’s top 10 in steals per game (14.6) and turnover margin (7.5) and were averaging close to 74 points per contest.
“We really have worked on our team chemistry. It’s one of our main goals this year, on and off the court, and I think that’s really what’s our key to winning,” Schmidt said. “We’re not going to have one person who’s always going to be our leading scorer, so we have to rely on each other and play together. We’re just really trying to work on the selfless part of it, so everyone’s a stud out on the court.”
The Jimmies have basically played with 10 starters this season, with Schmidt (6.1 ppg, 12 treys, senior Olivia Anderson (9.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg), sophomore Noelle Josephson (8.1 ppg, 3.6 spg), and freshmen Hannah DeMars (8.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Macy Nilsen (5 ppg) acting as the team's first line, followed by senior Courtney Mosloski (7 ppg, 3.4 rpg), juniors Emma Stoehr (6.3 ppg) and Mackensi Higlin (5.5 ppg 3.5 rpg), sophomore Grace Benz (6.9 ppg 3.4 rpg) and freshman Kia Tower (5.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg) acting as line No. 2. Junior forward Correy Hickman had also played nearly 70 minutes off the bench.
“Not many teams can come in, five in and five out, and press the entire game,” Schmidt said. “What makes us so competitive is we can have 10 girls come out on the court and give (teams) fits, especially in the press. The pressure and intensity is always there.”
The Jimmies will need to keep applying said pressure facing ranked opponents nearly every night on the schedule. UJ had No. 5 Dordt, No. 23 Mayville State and No. 19 Morningside coming up in December alone.
“Our approach this year has been the next game is the only thing that matters,” Schmidt said. “We’re focused on the next 40 minutes that we’re playing. Not even focusing as much on the team we’re playing, but focusing on us and being consistent in our game.”
Schmidt will also be keeping on eye on Kidder County Wolves girls basketball and younger sister Madelyn Schmidt this winter. The all-state junior guard and the Wolves are favored to repeat as Class B’s Region 3 champions.
“They’re gonna be tough again this year,” Paige laughed. “They got a lot of experience last year and they have some fire in their veins from going to state and not making it very far, so they want to get back there.”