« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Eric Peterson, Published November 28 2012

Dragons' Yernatich feels at home beyond the arc

Moorhead - Marisa Yernatich didn’t have to venture far when she wanted to work on her shooting skills in high school. She didn’t have to leave home.

Yernatich had an indoor basketball court attached to her house in Duluth, Minn.

“It was definitely the place to come for all my friends,” Yernatich said. “It was a lot of fun.”

The hours upon hours the Dragons senior spent shooting on that indoor basket have been evident in her career at Minnesota State Moorhead.

Yernatich is nearing the school record for 3-point shots made in a career.

The 5-foot-9 guard has 147 entering Saturday’s game at Northern State, which is the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opener for the Dragons.

Kris Wilson – who finished her playing career in 2004 – is No. 1 on MSUM’s career list with 151 3-pointers.

“It speaks volumes for her work ethic and her ability to shoot,” MSUM head coach Karla Nelson said of Yernatich. “It is not an easy record to break.”

Yernatich holds the MSUM record for 3-point shots made in a game, sinking seven from beyond the arc as a freshman. That performance came against rival Concordia and was the fourth game of her college career. She’s been draining shots from long range since.

“We have confidence in her hitting those big shots in a game,” said Dragons senior Kaycee Charette.

Yernatich played on her first organized basketball team in third grade. Her dad, Matt Yernatich, was the coach.

“I know that I’ve watched her play over 600 basketball games,” said Matt, who played basketball in high school and one year in junior college. “It’s been a fabulous experience. I’m kind of sad it’s coming to an end here.”

Marisa credits her father for her long-range shooting touch. Her first basketball memory was shooting in the driveway with her dad.

When the family moved to a different home, Matt helped build a gym that was attached to the house.

Marisa said the gym was dug into the ground and had a ceiling height of 25 feet. She was a high school freshman when the gym was built.

“You go down a spiral staircase.” said Marisa, whose mom, Yvonne, also played basketball in high school and junior college. “It’s big enough where you can shoot a 3. … There are definitely a lot of memories in there with my friends and my dad and my brother and sister and my mom.”

When Yernatich and Charette were freshmen for MSUM, the team went to Yernatich’s house for a meal when the team played at Minnesota-Duluth.

Charette recalls being amazed when she saw the indoor setup.

“You have a basketball hoop in your house?” Charette said with a smile. “No wonder she is such a good shooter. It was crazy the first time we went there.”

Marisa finished her prep career at Duluth East as the school’s all-time career scoring leader with 2,237 points. Matt recalls the game that Marisa hit the 2,000-point milestone. She was 32 points away heading into the game. Marisa had 32 points by halftime.

Marisa would have “1,000-shot weekends” with her dad. That meant 1,000 made shots.

“I got my shot from is my dad and the repetition of shooting. We shot so much,” Marisa said.

“The biggest thing with being a good shooter is you have to have good hands,” Matt added. “She always had the ability to catch the basketball and knew what to do with it.”

Nelson feels Yernatich has elevated her game this season and is more than just a 3-point shooting threat. She is the team’s leading scorer through four games, averaging 18.5 points per game.

“She just seems so much more mature this year – on the court, off the court, more confident,” Nelson said. “I think she really relishes the idea of being that go-to person.”

Matt said when he played basketball he wore the No. 50. Marisa wears the No. 25 for the Dragons.

“We like to kid her that she wore 25 because she’s half the player that her day was,” Matt joked. “But that’s not true.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com