by Eric Oslund
The Zimmerman Thunder had a great outing at their holiday tournament in Monticello. Defeating Minneapolis Washburn 69-28 on Dec. 28, and then Monticello 61-26 the following night.
The have a high-tempo, fast-paced style to their play that often leads to a different girl leading them in scoring every night. In this holiday tournament, it was Naomi Hagstrom leading the Thunder as she recorded a team-high 22 points the first night, and also lead the team with 15 points the second night.
Hagstrom also corralled 14 rebounds in the tournament, which was second on the team. If you ask her, though, she didn’t even realize how well she played. Instead, she gives all the credit to her teammates.
“I couldn’t have scored if my teammates hadn’t passed me the ball,” she explained. “I think it was just really a team effort. I don’t think I personally did anything that great, just happened to be the one to score, I guess.”
This is her third year playing on varsity. She was a bench player as a freshman, a starter as a sophomore and now has turned into one of the key players on this Thunder unit as a junior. In fact, she is one of five returning starters on the team, and she says that’s a big reason why they have been able to get off to the kind of start they have had.
“Last year, we had a pretty good season and we were able to rebuild off quite a few graduating seniors,” she began. “This year, we actually all returned as far as starters, so we had a pretty solid core group. We were able to work together during the offseason and that helped a lot this season being able to come together and work together as a team more effectively. Just kind of learn how to play together, we’ve come a long ways.”
The Thunder do not have a lot of height on their team, in fact, Hagstrom actually measures out to be the tallest starter. That means that she usually has a little more responsibility in the post. She often times has to go up against the tallest player on the other team, get good positioning on them and out-rebound them in order to get her teammates the ball back.
But once again, if you ask her about those responsibilities, she chooses to focus on all the hard work her teammates put in every game.
“I wouldn’t say it’s just even me, but other people on the team have had to step up and become really aggressive on the boards,” Hagstrom said. “Ilea Mays, she’s a beast underneath. I think she’s 5-6, which usually isn’t common for people her height, but she’s had to step up and be that kind of player too.”
There is an unselfishness about Hagstrom when she talks about the game of basketball. She clearly does not like to be the one focused on, as she is always quick to point out the success her teammates have had and the hard work they put into their craft.
A reason for that could be because of the love she has for the players around her. As previously mentioned, all five of the Thunder’s starters played with one another last year, but a lot of them have also been playing together for even longer than that.
Being a part of the Thunder program has meant a lot to Hagstrom, and it is apparent anytime she talks about her coaches or teammates.
“I love playing on this team,” she said. “I love the girls. I love going to practice everyday. It’s been a really cool experience and just being able to play with the same group of girls for quite a while has been great too. You get to know people better, it’s been fun.”
Hagstrom isn’t quite sure where this year will take her and her teammates. It has been the best start to the season she has had as a part of the Thunder, and she is excited to see where it goes.