Young creeping up on scoring mark
For Kerri Young, being on the varsity court as an eighth-grader was a memory in itself.
"I didn't think much about scoring," said Young, now a senior at Mitchell High School and a three-time all-state selection. "Just being on the floor was amazing."
Still today, Young doesn't have a favorite way to score and she even admits she'd rather set up a teammate for a score than get a bucket herself. Young loves assists, she says.
But that hasn't stopped her from climbing the school's girls' basketball career-scoring list, which is topped by former standout Jeana Hoffman, who married former Mitchell Kernel Ryan Krome and goes by Jeana Krome.
This week, Young will likely pass Hoffman and overtake the top spot in Mitchell girls' basketball history for most points scored in a career. In six years of playing varsity basketball, Hoffman scored 1,565 points. Young has 1,533 points and needs 32 points to match someone she once looked up to.
"I remember watching them," Young said, referring to Jeana and Jenna Hoffman, identical twins who played for Mitchell from 1998 to 2004. "They were fun to watch. I was pretty little when I watched them so I don't remember anything specifically about their games. I just remember that I looked up to them, hoping that would be me some day."
In Young's first chance at the mark, the Kernels (9-2) play Pierre tonight and host Sturgis Friday in a pair of games that start at 7:30 p.m. at the Corn Palace. If she doesn't get to 32 by Friday, Mitchell hosts Spearfish at 1:45 p.m. Saturday at the Corn Palace.
Young by the numbers
Young is 32 points shy of the girls' career-scoring record at MHS, but she could also match another standout Mitchell basketball player in terms of career scoring.
Mike Miller, now an NBA player for the Miami Heat, played for the Kernels from 1994 to 1998 and scored 1,743 points, which is the school's career scoring record. Young, who holds a career average of 16.1 points per game, needs to help the Mitchell girls make it back to the state tournament and average 15 points per game in the final 14 games of the year to tie Miller's mark.
Young thinks it's a doable feat.
"To have my name in the same category, that'd be pretty cool," Young said.
As an eighth-grader, Young averaged 4.4 points per game, tallying a total of 57 points in her first year on varsity. In an autobiographic story in this year's Hansen-Anderson South Dakota basketball preview, Young noted that Mitchell girls' basketball coach Wes Morgan did a good job not rushing her too early and he helped make sure she was mentally ready for varsity action.
Morgan first saw Young play when she was a seventh-grader. He went to a Sioux Falls basketball tournament and then saw who would become one of the best girls' players to ever wear a Kernels uniform.
"Kerri had the ability to score, had the ability to run the floor and play the point guard if she needed to," Morgan said. "She could go left or right, and being taller gave her the ability to see the floor."
It was in Young's freshman year when she started to become one of the team's scoring threats. That year she averaged 16.9 points per game. As a sophomore, she netted her single-game high, scoring 30 points in a loss to the Tigers at Huron Arena. She scored 372 points as a freshman, 443 points as a sophomore and 473 points as a junior, and all three years she was a Class AA all-state selection.
She scored her 1,000th career point last season on Jan. 6, 2012, against Watertown. She finished the year eight points shy of tying Jeana Hoffman's single-season record of 481 points.
Through 11 games this year, Young has 188 points, averaging 17.1 per game, second-highest on the team. Junior guard Macy Miller is at 19.3 points per game this season and has 873 career points.
Her influences in life
Although there have been several people who've influenced her basketball career, Young said there are a few who notably stick out. The list includes her family, Morgan and Mitchell boys' basketball coach Tom Young.
After Tom Young was hired this past spring to take over the Mitchell boys' program, he spoke at a Rotary meeting and mentioned the Kernel senior's passion to get better every day. He noted a moment when he found her working out at 6 a.m. during the middle of the summer, a time most kids weren't focused on basketball.
Young credits Coach Young for her improving shooting skills. The two, who aren't related, started working together when Young was an eighth-grader. Morgan said Tom Young approached him to see if he could help Kerri with her shooting and other aspects of her game. Morgan was more than OK with it.
As a junior, Young knocked down 51 percent of her shots from the field and 40 percent from behind the three-point line, both were team highs in a season the Kernels captured a state championship.
"She's so coachable and teachable," said Tom Young, whose daughter, Jill, played at Mitchell Christian and holds the state's all-time girls' career scoring record with 3,317 points. "She's a very committed and dedicated player.
"Kerri being out on the floor makes everyone else better because of all the little things she does. The other teams focus on her, so even if she doesn't score a point she still changes the game."
Coach Young also called Kerri a versatile player, something she may have picked up from two of her older brothers, Nick and Brett.
Brett was a strong outside shooter for the Mitchell Kernels, while Nick was a "hustle-player," according to his sister. Both Brett and Nick are attending South Dakota State University, where Kerri will join this fall to start her collegiate basketball career.
"Every time they would come home, we would usually go play at the 'rec' one-on-one," Young said. "They would give me little hints on how to get better."
Overtaking the record
Hoffman is OK with Young taking over her record.
Both of the Hoffmans played varsity as seventh-graders and helped the school to six straight state tournaments. While Jeana Hoffman finished with 1,565 career points at Mitchell, Jenna Hoffman finished with 1,497 points, a mark Young passed earlier this season.
After being named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior in high school, Jeana Hoffman went on to play with her sister at Division I Texas State and then transferred to have a successful career for the University of South Dakota, then a Division II school.
When Young was in middle school, she remembers going to Gary Munsen-run Kernel summer basketball camps in which both Hoffman twins were featured guests.
"I think she's a great player," Jeana Hoffman said. "Both my sister and I helped her when she was younger. We worked with her on individual skills at camps. She always had a great work ethic and that combined with a lot of skill makes her a really great player."
Young said she doesn't remember any specific memories of learning from the Hoffmans, but one thing from the summer camps sticks out.
"They did a lot with ball-handling," Young said. "They always talked about how important that was."
Jeana Hoffman has been impressed watching Young grow up and become the player she is today. Hoffman knew Young was a special talent from the very beginning.
"She has versatility," Hoffman said. "... She's always had that athleticism where she can get to the basket or shoot it. That's just what I've seen from her over the years."
Because of work commitments, Hoffman cannot make it to tonight's game but she plans on being in attendance Friday. With Young's scoring average at about 17 points per game, it's likely Friday will be when her name moves to the top of the list.
"I would love to be there," Hoffman said. "It would be great to see her break it."