Minneapolis Southwest junior guard Naja Woods went over the 1,000-career point mark Thursday, which by itself is not overly remarkable.
It was the way she did it that stood out. As one of the few players in Southwest history to approach quadruple-digit scoring, Woods not only accepted the talk of her milestone, she embraced it. And once she got close, she wasted no time making it happen.
Woods topped 1,000 points on a night in which she also scored a personal-best 40 points in an 83-58 rout of Minneapolis North.
Staff writer Jim Paulsen spoke with Woods about a reputation that seems to grow with every game and a school record that she would like to break.
Q: Scoring 1,000 points is pretty nice. What are your thoughts on it?
A: It's kind of a big accomplishment. I've never been aware of how many points I've scored until I got to high school.
Q: What next?
A: I'd like to get the record for the school. It's 1,565 points, I think. I think I can break it if I stay on track.
Q: How have you elevated your game this season?
A: Last year I wanted to do well, but I don't think I wanted it as much as I do right now. The team is connecting more, and it's gotten easier for me in every game.
Q: With players like yourself, Chase Coley at Washburn and the two freshmen at Edison (U-Nique Longs and Alaysha Sutton), is girls' basketball in Minneapolis coming back?
A: I think it is. It has gotten a lot better this year. There is more talent, and more players are getting recognized. And the more competition we have against each other, the better it gets.
Q: You live on the North Side of Minneapolis. How did you end up at Southwest?
A: I actually went to elementary school and middle school in Hopkins, but I wanted to go to high school at a city school. In academics, Southwest is No. 1 in the state. That was an attractor. I'm big on academics.
Q: Talk about your game.
A: I'm a point guard and the floor general. I like to direct people and boost them up. I'm pretty quick. I'm able to get around most. And I love my jump shot.
Q: Game on the line, ball in your hands. What shot are you going to take?
A: My favorite shot is the three-pointer. Probably from the left wing.
Q: What do you need to improve?
A: Probably my handles. They're good, but not as good as they should be, my position on the team. If I get to the next level, they'll have to be better.
Q: You also play tennis. How long have you been a tennis player?
A: It's always something my family did when we were little. I've loved it ever since, but I didn't start playing on a team until eighth grade.
Q: Did you discover anything about tennis when you joined the team?
A: I didn't realize all of the practice and lessons that you need to have in order to be competitive. You need to have rigorous training to get better, but you need to do that in any sport to take it to the next level.
Q: Do you have a role model?
A: My mom. She's a really strong woman. Even if things aren't going well, she always tries to help. And she always knows what to say to help make things better.