Friday Night Sports Hero: Kaleigh Kummer

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Kaleigh Kummer has been playing basketball since the second grade.

Through hard work and some natural talent, Kummer has turned into a solid basketball player, and is one of the leaders on an undefeated St. Pat's team.

"She's a fun kid, she gets along with everybody. Whether you're a freshman or senior, she's going to treat you the same," said St. Pat's coach Nate Stieneke, who has coached Kummer since she was a freshman.

Kummer leads the team in points per game, assists per game, and shooting percentage, and both Stieneke and Kummer's teammates want the ball in her hands as much as possible.

"She's someone we can get the ball to when we need someone to score. We can get the ball to her when we need to set up a play, she's just always someone we can go to," said fellow senior Hayley Homan, one of Kummer's best friends on the team.

"We have a pretty good friendship, but on the court she's a really big leader to me. She's super confident in everything she says, she's a leader in the classroom as well," Homan added.

Stieneke has seen Kummer grow as a player over her four year career.

"She's become a more complete player. When she was a freshman, she shot a lot of threes and that was about it, but now she's got her mid range game down, and she can hit just about any shot in the gym," Stieneke said. He added, "She doesn't force it offensively. She let's her other teammates score, and distributes the ball well, so she's not all about scoring, she's a true team player."

Kummer's improvement was not an accident, she worked at her game to improve into a more well-rounded player.

"I started off as a really good shooter I think, as the years went by I tried working on my dribble-drive, to be more of a threat; so they don't know if I'm going to shoot it or just drive to the basket," Kummer said.

Kummer said she tries to model her game off former UConn star, and current WNBA MVP, Breanna Stewart; even though Stewart is a big, and Kummer is a guard. She also watches college hoops whenever she can, tuning into Stewart's alma mater, the UConn Huskies, as well as the Duke men's team.

Kummer attributes a portion of her growth to the four other seniors on the team, who she's played with the past four years, but has been friends with since elementary school.

"We have a lot of chemistry, we've been best friends since elementary school, so we've grown together, and it helps a lot in basketball," Kummer said.

When asked about a story to describe Kummer, Stieneke and Homan had opposite responses.

Stieneke focused on the determination and hard-work of Kummer, telling a story from last season, when she dislocated her finger and played in the game the next day, hitting seven three pointers despite the injury.

Homan, however, told a story about Kummer that made her laugh. During last season's holiday tournament at home, Kummer was walking with no one around, and tripped over a painted line.

When Kummer thinks back to her time at St. Pat's, she thinks about playing at state, "Even though we've lost, it's good challenges and we've always had good memories down there in Lincoln," she said.

All of Kummer's hard work has paid off. Before Friday's game against Overton, Kummer needed just 171 points to tie the career scoring record at St. Pat's. Kummer, who is averaging more than 16 points a game this season, will have nine more regular season games, plus post-season play, to break that record.

When asked why she likes playing basketball, Kummer's answering is simple.

"The feeling of when you shoot a three pointer and that going in is awesome, or getting an and one, or making a good pass and your teammates finishing, it's a great feeling," Kummer said.