by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
When Shelby Eden gets to college, she’ll have to settle for being an academic high achiever, because 5-foot-4 guards with mediocre speed don’t usually land on college basketball rosters. However, the Spectrum senior is making her mark as a high school player, especially as a shooter.
“I will be so sad when the season is over,” sighs Eden, an Elk River resident who chose Spectrum for its smaller class sizes and “more sports opportunities.”
Eden is knocking down 14 points per game, including 67 in a recent three-game stretch, for the 6-7 Sting. She has nailed 34 three-pointers, ranking among the state leaders. She’s made 26 of 31 at the free throw line including a streak of 19 in a row.
Eden had 29 (including 9-for-9 at the line) in a 60-58 loss to a strong (10-3) St. Agnes team; then 15 in a loss to Albert Lea (4-7), a 4A school; then 23 in a win over Minneapolis Patrick Henry.
“Shelby’s really been coming on as a scorer, and her defense has gotten much better,” said coach Lenny Sedlock. “We played her at point guard most of the time last year but I moved her (to off guard) so she can shoot more.”
Eden, team captain in both soccer and basketball, is a well-regarded student leader. “Shelby is a great kid,” said Sedlock. “She has the good work ethic, she’s very coachable, she is positive, she leads by example.”
Eden is top student in the class at this point with a 4.02 GPA. She was elected National Honor Society president, got the school’s MSHSL Triple A nomination, and led an NHS Halloween food drive that collected 470 pounds. Her favorite academic pursuit is Spanish, in which she’s earned a gold and two silvers in the annual National Spanish Exam.
For all that, Eden is still Spectrum’s main gym rat, working especially on shooting and dribbling.
“She’s the first one in the gym and last one out,” said Sedlock. “I have to tell her to leave sometimes.”
Eden was team MVP and the lone all-conference pick as junior for a struggling Sting team (two wins) as she averaged 12.6 points, sinking 58 of 138 three-pointers, a robust 42 percent. She was 45-for-68 at the line (66 percent).
Eden is not a classic shooter, casting them up slightly off-center. “I think I have a weird shot actually,” she grins. “I’ve been told I don’t have a solid fundamental shot.” She puts them up soft, though, especially free throws, and gets friendly rolls.
On defense, usually guarding taller players, Eden tries to steal the ball or force jump balls.
Eden has played soccer since childhood with TRSA teams, but didn’t join the school team until this fall mainly due to holding jobs. A center mid on a young squad that went 4-11, her main duty was “getting the ball to a really fast teammate who scored a lot of goals,” meaning Becca Schultz.
Soccer coach Nicki Luehrs was delighted to have Eden if only for one season. “Her technical ability was unmatched by anyone on the team,” said the coach, praising Eden’s passing skills, ability to outmaneuver opponents, field vision and her “affable, easygoing” manner as captain.
Eden says she keeps an eye on the valedictorian race — “We don’t really talk about it, but I’m hoping to get it” — but not so much on her personal basketball stats. Her only goal this year was a team quest. “I’d really like to be .500, at least, after last year.”
THE EDEN SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents, Cory and Jeanine Grupa; older sisters, Erin and Ellen … Sports: basketball, soccer … Academics: 4.02 GPA … Other activities: National Honor Society president … College plans: undecided on where and major
Favorite stuff —Classes: Spanish, forensic science … TV shows: “The Office,” “Criminal Minds” … Movies: comedies, especially “Talladega Nights” … Food: strawberries … Drink: blue Powerade zero … Reading: local paper, classic literature …. Team: Twins … Athlete: Justin Morneau … Kickback activity: golf … Would like to visit: Europe