Almost lost amidst Monticello’s thrilling section final win over Orono on Friday night was another milestone, the biggest one yet in fact, for Magic senior Grace Sawatzke.
Sawatzke’s free throw with 4:58 left in the game, which gave Monticello a 61-58 lead, also gave the star guard 2,000 career points.
The University of North Dakota commit wasn’t even aware of the accomplishment until after the game when Coach Craig Geyen informed her.
She said it pales in comparison to what the team accomplished that night, with it third -straight state berth, but that it still meant a lot.
“I worked really hard for it,” said Sawatzke, adding that she wouldn’t have gotten there without her coaches, family, and teammates.
The senior, who was at 2,003 career points entering Tuesday night’s state quarterfinal game, becomes just the second basketball player in Monticello history to eclipse 2,000 points. She joins former Metro Player of the Year Nate Holmstadt, who finished with over 2,100 career points.
“It’s pretty cool to say that Grace is in the same category as Nate,” said Geyen. “That’s a special accomplishment.”
Sawatzke has progressed her offensive game throughout her five-year varsity career. This year she has been a consistent three-point shooter (making around 40 percent of her attempts) as well as adding a dangerous pull-up jump shot to her game.
“It’s grown a lot,” said Geyen, of her offensive game, before adding that her all-around game is just as impressive.
“She’s probably the best rebounding guard in the conference, and she’s making her teammates better each and every day, which is the sign of a great player,” he added. “It might be a once in a lifetime opportunity to coach someone [like her].”
But both Sawatzke and Geyen were quick to point out how instrumental her teammates were in getting her to this accomplishment.
“Obviously, you can’t just go out every night and score 20 points by yourself,” said Sawatzke, adding that having so many weapons around her keeps teams honest. “They’re not just focused on you as the one player, there is more attention on everybody.”
While Sawatzke is now at 2,000, two of her teammates (Tish Jude and Emily Gruber) have crossed 1,000 points in the last three years. Geyen said those individual accomplishments, and even more so the team accomplishments, help energize the future of the Magic program.
“We had 20 girls sitting behind our bench [at the section championship game],” he said. “These little girls want to be just like a Gabby, a Grace, a whoever. It’s pretty cool.”
That gives Geyen plenty of reason to be excited for down the road. But for now, the focus is still on enjoying the present.
There was plenty to enjoy on Friday night. A thrilling game. A section championship. And the all-important third straight state tournament berth. Plus of course, that big accomplishment, that registered as a little blip for the team-oriented Magic. 2,000 career points for Sawatzke.
“Just icing on the cake,” said the senior.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at firstname.lastname@example.org