Oakes' 1,000-point scorer Roney continues to light up scoreboards

Jan. 28—OAKES, N.D. — During the first quarter of the Oakes Tornadoes' win over Aberdeen Christian on Jan. 6, senior forward Laikyn Roney became only the ninth player in program history to score 1,000 points.

"It means a lot; this is a milestone most athletes try to achieve and I'm glad that with hard work and especially the help of my teammates I was able to get it," Roney said.

One of the games that helped her reach that milestone was a 39-point effort in January 2022, setting a school record for most points in a game in program history. As of Jan. 25, the No. 9-ranked Tornadoes are 11-2 and are on a two-game winning streak. This season, Roney is averaging 18.2 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game, 1.8 assists per game and 3.3 steals per game. Roney currently sits at 1,144 career points.

"Laikyn's a tremendous leader," Tornadoes head coach Judy Hansen said. "She's not a super vocal leader but all of her leadership shows in her actions and working hard, her effort and her coachability."

Roney and her teammates have had to get used to a new head coach this year after the departure of David Goetz. Roney said after she and her teammates got used to Hansen they have been able to be more successful than they have in the past.

"Our coaching this year is more structured," Roney said. "Everything is timed and we are expected to work our hardest. It was different at first but now that we've gotten used to it, we have been able to become a more successful team."

Hansen said Roney's best skills are her court vision and her motor. Roney said her best skill is her ability to drive to the hoop and draw fouls.

"Her best skill is probably her effort, she knows and she understands the game of basketball," Hansen said. "She's got high IQ basketball knowledge. Her effort gets her into a lot of good positions and places on the court that help her succeed."

Last year, the Tornadoes' season ended with a tight 46-45 loss to the Medina/Pingree-Buchanan Thunder in the Region 3 Tournament.

"We didn't end last year how we wanted but we know this year that every team is coming to play and we are going to have to work our hardest to get where we want to," Roney said.

As one of nine upperclassmen on the team, Roney's got a lot of help when it comes to leadership and she says they all lead together.

"I feel that all of us seniors are looked up to as good examples," Roney said. "We can be tough at times but that's because we only want our teammates to be the best they can (be)."

The Tornadoes opened the season with a loss before bouncing back with a nine-game winning streak. Roney said the team was able to bounce back thanks to their defense.

"Since then we're preparing harder, we're working harder on this stuff that makes us good and helps us compete," Hansen said.

This season, the Tornadoes have outscored their opponents 710-534, and Roney leads her team with 218 total points. Roney credits her team's success this season to their experience playing with one another.

"What has allowed us to be so successful is the fact that we've been playing together for years," Roney said. "We've gotten to know each other's tendencies and trust one another to do their job."

After averaging single digits her first two seasons, Roney jumped up to averaging 15.1 points per game her sophomore year before averaging 20.1 points last year. Hansen credits Roney's improvement to her ability to keep grinding.

"She's just kept working, she's got a high work ethic, not many kids can outwork her on the court," Hansen said. "She's steady eddy, she knows what she needs to do and where she needs to be and she's willing to be there and put in the time and the effort to get there. She's been patient as a player, she didn't play a lot as an eighth grader or a freshman but she's waited for her turn and turned into a nice basketball player."