Missouri Valley (Iowa) High sophomore Hailey Hellstrom knows that a player can have a big impact on a game without scoring loads of points. She proved just how big an impact that can be in a game against Riverside (Iowa) High, racking up a state-record 19 steals in her team's 43-35 win.
"There was like three instances in the game where she had at least three steals in under 30 seconds,'' Missouri Valley coach Dan Peterson told the Omaha World-Herald. "It was just unreal.''
The World-Herald reported that the state record was put forward by Missouri Valley statistician Doug Rodenburg, who happens to be a retired sportswriter nicknamed "The Stat Man." As soon as Rodenburg saw the game totals, he realized that the performance was something special, discovering a couple days later that it was tied for the ninth-best single-game steals total in high school basketball history.
The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union has since come forward to say that no one in the five-player era (that's right, they went back to an era when each team had more than five players on the court at a time) had ever recorded that many steals, ensuring that Hellstrom had a state record.
Yet the sophomore -- who actually told coaches while sitting on the bench in the first quarter that she'd break her own single-game steals school record -- had no idea she had accumulated so many thefts until she was told of her feat after the game in the locker room. Instead, she'd been focused on helping her team win a tight game, leading the way with a career-high 25 points despite a slow start.
"It's pretty crazy,'' Hellstrom said. "I didn't think it was that big of a deal. I was like, 'Whoa!'''
To put Hellstrom's game in a personal perspective, consider the fact that the young varsity player averages 9.7 points, four rebounds and 5.2 steals per game. It goes without saying that a few layups created by Hellstrom's "14-better-than-average" steals performance helped pad her scoring statistics against Riverdale.
While it's easy to assume that Hellstrom won't ever be able to reach 19 steals again, her coach said to do so would be a mistake. Instead, Peterson said his super sophomore is just beginning to realize the outer limits of her full potential.
"She's a great girl, but she still hasn't quite figured out exactly [what] she's capable of yet,'' Peterson told the World-Herald. "Only being a sophomore, that's understandable. Friday was definitely a glimpse of what she's capable of.''
Given what Hellstrom has already accomplished, trying to slow the young star in the future is a terrifying thought.