NORTH SIOUX CITY | Peyton Wingert has been working on her game for as long as she can remember.
The Dakota Valley senior certainly grew up with basketball in her blood with both parents having played at Briar Cliff University. She has used all that basketball knowledge to her advantage to become one of the most prolific scorers in the metro.
“I have a picture of me and my dad shooting baskets when I was 1-and-a-half,” Wingert said. “I remember going out in the driveway and dribbling with two balls, and my dad was always telling me to look up when I dribble. My dad would always rebound for me in the driveway and my mom coached my AAU summer team.”
All those lessons have paid off for the Sioux City Journal’s Metro Athlete of the Week who hit a layup with 12 seconds left in regulation to give Dakota Valley its first lead of the game as the Panthers went on to defeat Clark/Willow Lake 46-45 Saturday. It was part of a 16-point effort for Wingert.
“I like games that are close because the game is never really handled and you have to keep pushing,” she said. “But I think that is when my team plays the best. We have been in games that are close and that is when we all need to work together.
“I knew I needed to take that shot and step up in that time, and that is what I did. I like when it is kind of on my shoulders because I know I can handle it because I have worked so hard for those moments.”
The week also included a win over rival Elk Point-Jefferson and another victory over Sioux City North on Monday for the Panthers and Wingert, who was playing at less than 100 percent.
“She hit a bucket which in the end got us a win and that was on a sprained ankle,” Dakota Valley Coach Tammy Lilly said. “She has matured as a basketball player, as an athlete, as a leader.”
Scoring has always been Wingert’s forte as she has gone over 1,000 points in her career, sitting currently at 1,120, and became the school’s all-time leading scorer earlier this season when she eclipsed Alyssa Wall’s total of 1,016.
“It means all my hard work has paid off,” she said. “I have worked so hard since I was 5 and done so many things outside of high school basketball and to have seen the success I have makes me feel so great.”
The 5-foot-10 forward gave credit to her mother, Brandi, for helping to push her to develop her post game, which has made her that much tougher to deal with on the court. Her father, Torrey, has been there to push to improve her shooting form.
“My mom worked with me on my post moves and my ability to get to the basket I have worked on a lot myself,” she said. “I worked on my Euro-step and all my moves and my parents helped along the way to help me score how I can score.
“My mom was always telling me if I worked on my post moves I would be unstoppable, so she was always working with me on my post moves. My dad is always critiquing my shot and telling me follow through.”
“Peyton does a phenomenal job of attacking the bucket and maneuvering her body in a way that most kids can’t when they attack the bucket,” Lilly said. “She is not one-dimensional, she can hit outside shots and has great length to her.”
Wingert’s ability to pile up points is even more impressive considering she missed almost all her freshman year dealing with an injury.
“My freshman year I was on the varsity team but I didn’t play that often because I had a back fracture,” said Wingert, who does physical therapy on her back daily. “I only scored 20 points my freshman year. It was frustrating because I wanted nothing more than help my team.”
The 17-year-old has had a lot of individual success, but her senior season will not be complete if it doesn’t come with team success for the 14-3 Panthers.
“My teammates and I get closer every single day and do so much bonding outside of the sport,” she said. “We hang out and go to breakfast before games … when you play with people that are your best friends it is so much fun.”
The Panthers have not made it to a state tournament with Wingert on the team, coming up just a game short her freshman year. This season different players have stepped up at different times to come up with big plays.
“We have had kids like Madisyn Heeren who will get a double-double and been huge for us on the boards, and kids like Alyssa Johnson who maybe has to guard their best slasher, their best shooter or their best ball handler and still can step out and hit shots,” Lilly said.
Frank Vondrak, Heelan .... The senior had to overcome a big deficit in his semifinal match at 152 pounds during the sectional tournament and went on to claim the title with a pair of pins.
Eric Steele, East .... The senior went over 100 wins in his career as East won the team title at the Bergan Duals Saturday.