Eureka senior Annika Herbert has been the Wildcats’ starting point guard since her freshman year.
In a recent 67-50 home win over Parkway West, Herbert reached a milestone that left her feeling great.
Herbert joined the 1,000 point club at Eureka. She went into the elite group on the same night with junior teammate Kate Hillyer, who reached 1,000 points as well. There are seven girls who have eclipsed 1,000 points in their careers as Wildcats.
“I was extremely excited to reach my 1,000th career point this season,” Herbert said. “It wasn’t necessarily a goal for me to reach but it was a nice source of recognition of all the time I have put into this sport.
“It was not a set goal I had made for myself but I’m very proud to have reached it and it was especially fun to do so at home with lots of family and friends in the stands watching me.”
Eureka coach James Alsup was happy to see his senior join the 1,000-point club.
“Annika is a well-rounded player that does a lot of things well on both ends of the court,” Alsup said. “She has been our starting point guard since her freshman year. It is impressive for Annika to get to 1,000 as a point guard because she has to run the show and know when to keep the ball and when to get others involved.
“It is very impressive for a player to reach 1,000 career points. It is the product of numerous hours working on the game. To do it you need to score consistently for a few years.”
Herbert was just 5-foot-4 when she was a freshman. She has grown and gotten stronger since then.
“I have grown about four inches and have taken weightlifting class every semester of high school, which has made me a much stronger and more physically competitive player all around,” Herbert said. “Every summer I have played with my club team against extremely high level players and that has basically forced me to become a better ball handler and be much calmer under pressure.”
Being the point guard is an important position. Earning the job as a freshman can be daunting.
But Herbert did just that.
“I think I was prepared due to the amount of basketball I had played against high level competition leading up to my freshman year,” Herbert said.
She likes handling the basketball and dishing the ball to others. Herbert likes to shoot as well.
“I really enjoy making plays and getting the ball to my teammates but it’s also fun being in the position to be a main scorer as well,” Herbert said.
Herbert scored 19 points in the win over the Longhorns, who are coached by former Eureka standout Allie Boedeker, whom Alsup also coached at Eureka.
She had a feeling she was going to reach the plateau in the game.
“I knew I had 17 points to go and was feeling confident after hitting two 3s at the start of the half,” Herbert said. “I saw that I had 14 and found myself open at the three-point line so I shot it and as soon as I did, I knew it was going in.
“The game was stopped and I was hugging all my teammates and ran the ball up to my mom. That was funny, though, because you aren’t allowed to change the game ball so she had to give it right back.”
The gym was full for the game.
“It was our Feeder Program Night and all of the boys and girls high school teams played at home that evening in front of our future players,” Alsup said. “The varsity girls played before the varsity boys so when Annika and Kate reached their milestones the gym was packed. Everyone that I have talked to have said that they have never seen two players get to 1,000 in the same game let alone two from the same team.”
There was no problem stopping the game so the girls could be recognized, Alsup said.
“We knew that there was an outside chance that one or both of our players could get there that night so I reached out to coach Allie Boedecker at Parkway West,” Alsup said. “Back in the day when she was Allie Wilhelm she played basketball for us at Eureka so was more than willing to let us stop the game and honor the accomplishments. When we stopped the game Annika and Kate took the ball up into the stands to share the moment with their parents.
“What is great about Annika and Kate is that they are outstanding young ladies off the court as well.”
Playing in front of a packed house was fun, Herbert said.
“I was so excited that I got it at that game because I knew a lot of people came to watch at the chance of me hitting 1,000,” Herbert said. “I am glad it was a 3 that brought me exactly to the milestone. “
Her teammates were pleased with her, too.
“They were all really happy for me,” Herbert said. “Natalie’s (Archambault) reaction was probably my favorite because she didn’t realize why the game had stopped until Elise (Moger) told her what happened and her face lit up and she hugged me. It was so funny.”
Herbert noted her teammates played a big role in her reaching 1,000 points.
“While 1,000 points is an individual achievement, I couldn’t have reached it without my teammates from every year passing me the ball, screening for me, and believing in me and giving me the confidence to go score,” Herbert said.
Reaching the scoring milestone with Hillyer was fun, Herbert said.
“We had talked about the possibility of hitting it in the same game but with her being 30 away, we didn’t think it would happen,” Herbert said. “But when Kate gets hot, there’s no slowing her down so when she got it, it was so cool and a really fun moment for us.
“We have gotten a lot closer this year on and off the court which has made us work together even better with communication and just reading each other in games. “
Herbert credited Alsup with helping her become a better player.
“He has instilled a lot of confidence in me, having trusted me to run offense from the time I was a freshman,” Herbert said. “He has always believed in me to make plays and trusts me to be smart and protect the ball.’
Herbert is excited to see how the Wildcats will finish the regular season and begin postseason play in early March.
“For the rest of the year, I honestly just want to have as much fun as possible, make lots of memories, and go as far as we can in the postseason,” Herbert said. “My main goal is to be proud of myself and my teammates, especially my fellow seniors at the end of our careers and know we gave it our all to the end.”