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Tom Mix, Published January 16 2013

Maple Valley standout eclipses 1,000 career points, and she's only a freshman

Tower City, N.D. - To avoid getting caught up in the anticipation of scoring her 1,000th point, Maple Valley girls basketball player Rylee Nudell asked for coaches and teammates to keep her out of the loop as she neared the milestone.

After Christmas, Nudell knew she was close, but it wasn’t until Jan. 10 that the Raiders freshman reached the 1,000-point mark during a 71-52 road win over Kindred.

“It felt good having that many people there supporting me,” said Nudell, who is 15 years old and averaging 27.5 points per game. “It felt good to accomplish that, because not many players get to accomplish that goal, and I have always wanted to achieve that ever since I first started playing.”

Nudell – a 5-foot-10 forward – has been a fast study on the basketball court. She has been a player on the Maple Valley varsity since she was in seventh grade.

Entering the game with the then-North Dakota Class B, No. 5-ranked Vikings, Nudell needed 19 points to reach four digits in career scoring.

The crowd hung on every attempt until finally in the second half, Nudell sunk a layup to become the sixth girls basketball player at Maple Valley to reach 1,000 points.

“I know it was on her mind,” Maple Valley head coach Jeff Miller said. “She knew she was getting close, people had made up signs, and I think she could tell when she was one point away.”

Nudell received the game ball following the win. Maple Valley (7-1) found itself ranked No. 6 in the state three days later.

“It felt good to get it at the Kindred game, but we were more focused on defeating Kindred,” said Nudell, who has 1,033 career points. “They were ranked. After the game I had my teammates with me, and that felt good.”

Nudell’s fast rise and rapid speed in reaching 1,000 points hasn’t come as a shock to those close to the Maple Valley program.

“It was surprising two years ago,” Miller said. “She works so hard. She has the God-given talent, but the time she puts into it is great. She is just a dedicated basketball player.”

On the horizon for Nudell is the school’s scoring record, which is held by Nudell’s mother, Rhonda. Rhonda Nudell (Schneekloth) scored 1,800 career points at Maple Valley before playing at Concordia.

“Records are made to be broken, and it would be great if she would break it,” said Rhonda Nudell, who was a member of the Cobbers’ NCAA Division III national championship team during the 1987-88 season.

“I have always wanted to break my mom’s record, and that was past 1,000, so once I started playing two years ago, it was just something I really wanted to do,” Nudell said. “That would be cool if I could do that.”

The Nudell family basketball connections don’t end there. Nudell’s father, Ron, is an assistant coach under Miller.

Nudell is shooting 60 percent from the field this season and is averaging 12. 9 rebounds and 4.4 steals per game.

“Rylee has the ability to take over a basketball game,” Miller said. “She is not just a post player. She is not just one thing. She does it all.”

Along with Nudell, the Raiders have a deep team looking to build on its fourth-place finish in Region 1 a year ago.

Senior Cassie Pautz is averaging 16.3 points per game for the Raiders. Junior point guard Abbie Tinjum is averaging 5.3 ppg.

The Raiders’ only loss this season is to Class A Valley City. Maple Valley has two wins over ranked opponents this season. The Raiders defeated Bismarck Shiloh Christian – ranked No. 4 at the time – 63-62 on Dec. 22.

“The confidence level has just been getting better and better,” Miller said of the Raiders. “They have all worked hard in the offseason and improved their games by working together.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562