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That's Miss Basketball!: Hettinger-Scranton's Oase named elite athlete

The 6-foot, 1-inch forward from Hettinger-Scranton earns Miss Basketball honors to close out her spectacular high school career.

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Determined to return to state for her senior year, Samantha Oase put up a 15 point, 10 rebound double-double in the victory over Heart River. (Matthew Curry/The Dickinson Press)

Hettinger-Scranton’s Samantha Oase has always been one of the most revered high school players in North Dakota. Her humbleness off the court stuns her opponents when her hunger for victory comes into sight. Ever since she was able to pick up a basketball, she often wondered what it would be like to be named the best player in the sport.

As of Sunday, she no longer has to wonder.

In the vote for Miss Basketball, the biggest award that can be awarded to a senior athlete in basketball, Oase earned the title with eight first-place votes and 67 voting points, followed swiftly by Fargo Davies’ Ryleigh Wacha with seven first-place votes and 65 voting points.

“I honestly did not see it happening right away, and just knowing that I was able to get the award was so overwhelming,” Oase said. “It was just crazy to be given the award. I’m still kind of in a haze about it.”

She added, “It means so much to me just knowing that all the hard work that I’ve just been doing over the summer, all my years of playing basketball has just paid off and just like having fun by playing basketball along the way is what makes it the best part.”

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The 6-foot, 1-inch forward had much to celebrate in her senior year. After declaring to NCAA Division-II Black Hills State prior to the season beginning, Oase had nothing to do but play the game she loved.

Oase led her team to an overall record of 20-7 while going a perfect 11-0 in Class B Region 7 play and earning the team its third straight regional title and state tournament appearance.

Just as she did on the scoreboard, Oase dominated the stats sheets by averaging 20.4 points on 56.9% shooting and 11.7 rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists per game. Oase also broke the record with most points scored by a female basketball player at Hettinger-Scranton with 1,698 total points and earned her 1,000th rebound during the regional tournament. As a result, Oase finished with 1,071 rebounds in her career.

Prior to being named Miss Basketball, Oase was named the Region 7 Senior Athlete of the Year. Along with those successes, Oase finished her senior year as a three-time first team All-State, three-time Class B State Tournament All-Tournament Team player and five-time All Region 7 Academic Team with her GPA of 4.0.

For the small-town senior, the award means a lot of big things to her and for the entire community.

“It’s just really nice because I know I would have never gotten this award without any of my teammates or my coaches and the community that I have,” she said.

Hettinger-Scranton Head Coach Kelly Pierce praised his star forward for her hard work ethic and her extraordinary season.

“It means everything just to think that all of her hard work and her dedication to the sport paid off,” Pierce said. “It’s just gratifying to know that a small-town kid can win an award like that if they dedicate themselves to being the best that they can possibly be.”

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With the absence of Hettinger-Scranton’s former seniors, including elite guard Alyssa Andress, many questioned how Oase would be as the leader of the Night Hawks, including Pierce.

“She had to expand her role,” he said. “She had to become more versatile and bring the ball up the floor for us at times and break presses and all of those different things. She’s had a lot of talent, but this year she became more versatile and her role on the team even grew.”

“She just kind of became more of the leader of the team,” Pierce added. “Sometimes when you become a senior you become a leader, but she really stepped up and led and led by example by working hard in practice every single day and making sure all of the other players were giving their best effort as well.”

Although Miss Basketball is an individual award, it brings with it a huge victory for all the younger athletes who dream of being the best in their sport, but question if they could be based on their location.

Among earning this for the community, her team, her coaches, and the fans, Oase says a big portion of this award goes to the future generations.

“I really hope that this award will just motivate and inspire so many younger children,” she said. “I know that when I was a kid I always thought of Miss Basketball as something so far-fetched and out of this world, and it’s just nice knowing that it can happen around these small towns of Scranton and Hettinger, and it’s just nice bringing it out here.”

While this officially marks the end of her career as a Night Hawk, Oase says she is satisfied with how this part of her story ends.

“I’m just ready to go to the next chapter of my life and saying goodbye to Night Hawk basketball but then welcome the Yellow Jacket family,” she said. “I’m just super excited to see what I can do in college and just have fun there.”

Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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