Jaguar teammates prove grand

IN SYNCHRONIZATION — Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther’s Kenlie Pytleski (left) and Alexis Brummond prepare to take shots during basketball practice on Wednesday at Martin Luther High School in Northrop. Both Pytleski and Brummond recently cleared the 1,000-point career scoring mark. (Photo by Alexis Cubit)

TRUMAN — Most high school basketball programs have one, maybe two players in a class, who reach 1,000 career points. The Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther Jaguars girls basketball team, however, tops that.

The team enters the new year with three players in the Class of 2017 who have reached the milestone after seniors Kenlie Pytleski and Alexis Brummond earned 1,000 points in December.

“It’s pretty cool. It’s never happened in our (Granada-Huntley-East Chain) history and probably theirs (Martin Luther), so it’s definitely an accomplishment for all of us and the team because it’s a team thing,” Pytleski said. “We wouldn’t have gotten those points without a certain pass or screen or play.”

Senior forward Hanna Geistfeld was the first to nab the honor during the 2015-2016 season as a Martin Luther Knight before the team joined with Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman during the offseason.

“It feels good to play with them now. I always didn’t like playing against them,” said Brummond, who was also a Knight. “I know they’re good and we’re good.”

Brummond notched 1,000 career points on Dec. 29 against Blue Earth Area during the Bucs’ Holiday Tournament. The Jaguars’ senior guard needed only six points entering the game and used her sharpshooting abilities to net the team’s first seven points of the game.

“She was definitely ready to reach that milestone and didn’t seem worried about it at all,” Jaguars head coach Rick Uttech said about Brummond. “She’s a real cool and collected girl.”

Brummond closed out the game with 23 points, scoring six of the team’s 13 overtime points for a 64-56 victory. She also went 3-for-6 from 3-point range.

“I feel relaxed now when I play basketball because I was always freaking out and (thinking about) how many points I needed,” Brummond said. “Now, it’s finally over and I feel relaxed and relieved.”

Although this was only Uttech’s first year coaching Brummond, he had watched her play for Martin Luther in past years, describing her as an “outstanding player” and “natural leader.”

“She’s not afraid to tell people where they need to be, so that’s what you’d expect of a leader,” he said. “She’s learned our offense. … She has a nice shot. She penetrates well (and) she’s a really good defensive player, too. I’ve seen all that and gotten to appreciate that both in the past and now.”

So far, Brummond has marked a milestone in both her fall and winter sports. A few months ago, she reached 1,000 career digs in volleyball, something few in the history of the schools’ programs have accomplished. For her, the difference in reaching 1,000 points versus 1,000 digs, however, had much to do with spectators.

“There were a lot more people there to see it and it was exciting because everyone was cheering for me,” Brummond said about getting her 1,000th point.

Pytleski had joined the 1,000-point club just nine days before on Dec. 20. She was able to play in front of the home crowd as the Jaguars took down Madelia, 68-28, in Truman. Pytleski had further to go to reach the milestone, however, needing 22 points. It wasn’t a problem at all for the senior center, who added two points for good measure to record 24 points in the contest.

“I was extremely nervous, and my teammates would agree,” Pytleski laughed. “It was a fun night. I’m glad everybody was there and I’m glad it was a home game. The environment definitely helped.”

Pytleski’s varsity career started in eighth grade, and she’s continued to come into her own over the years.

“I think when I was a freshman, I was a little afraid of the competition. Everybody was so good, then there was me and I was young,” she said.

“She was, earlier in her career, in the shadow of Rachel (Shumski), but last year, she really, really came on and has continued to do that this year,” Uttech added. “Her skill development has really improved. She played some AAU ball, and that helped her as well to get physically stronger.”

Pytleski will further that development next year in college. After being recruited by Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Cloud State University and other schools in Minnesota and Iowa, Pytleski announced she will continue her basketball career at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City, Iowa.

“I am excited to announce that I will be attending NIACC to continue my education & basketball career next yr! Merry Christmas & Go Trojans,” Pytleski tweeted on Christmas Eve.

NIACC is currently ranked No. 17 in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association Division II poll.

“I got the best feeling at NIACC because they have a really good coach,” Pytleski said. “I wanted to go to a good program not just to play, I want to compete and succeed.”

For the second consecutive year, the Jaguars will have a player go on to play college basketball. Shumski, a class of 2016 graduate, earned a scholarship to play at Minnesota State University at Mankato. She is currently averaging 17.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in her rookie season.

“It says to the younger girls that you can come from a small school — a small co-op — and play at the college level,” Uttech said. “It really encourages kids and says a lot about our program.”

Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther is currently 9-1 on the season and plays Fairmont at 7 p.m. tonight in Fairmont.