East Metro girls basketball player of the year: Stillwater’s Amy Thompson in sterling se

It was no secret that Amy Thompson would be the Stillwater girls basketball team’s best player this season. Now a senior, it was the South Florida commit’s time to take the mantle.

Already in the summer before Thompson’s senior year, Ponies coach Tim Peper saw opponents start to slant their defenses toward stopping the guard.

But it took all of two regular-season games for that attention to hit different heights.

A 38-point showing against Eagan in November let the cat out of the bag — Thompson was going to be a big, big problem for opposing teams all winter.

“She was hitting shots and doing things that night where it’s like, ‘OK, she’s ready for it to be her year,’ ” Peper said.

And it was just that — 2023-24 was the season of Amy Thompson, as she went from a nice player to a nearly unstoppable offensive force.

She averaged 25.8 points per game this season, shooting 40.1 percent from deep on a staggering 11.6 3-point attempts per game.

The school record for points in a game entering the season was 39 by Sara Scalia. Thompson eclipsed that mark on three different occasions in February alone, peaking with a 48-point showing against Forest Lake. In a 47-point outing against East Ridge, a 20-win team this season, Thompson made 10 triples.

Thompson is the 2024 East Metro girls basketball player of the year.

“I mean, yeah, it’s crazy,” Thompson said of the gaudy numbers. “I wouldn’t say I went into this season expecting that, but I think after the amount of work I put in, it’s not necessarily surprising to me. People think it’s crazy, but I know all the times I was in the gym by myself (working on my game). The time nobody sees. So it’s not necessarily surprising for me.”

As the season wore on and the numbers piled up, attendance at her games grew and grew in Stillwater’s gym. Everyone wanted to get their eyes on the Amy Thompson show, to catch a glimpse of the guard when she entered the “zone.”

“I’ll shoot a shot and it’ll be like, ‘Whoa, I didn’t even try to do that. It just kind of came out of my hands,’ ” Thompson said of when she has it going. “But it’s fun. I feel just kind of free, relaxed, like nobody can guard me. It’s fun. I enjoy it.”

“It’s like, ‘How did she get that off? … Oh, it just went in,’ ” Peper said.

Peper knew exactly how much time Thompson put into her craft, and yet even he was slightly taken aback by the things she did this winter, leading Stillwater to a 20-win season and a section semifinal appearance.

“My mind was blown,” he said.

Because all of the production came against defenses specifically engineered to take Thompson away. Many of them failed. Thompson credits a lot of that to her selfless teammates.

“We set really good screens, and I greatly appreciate my teammates for that, and passes hitting me for the split second I’m open,” she said. “I’m not doing this by myself, obviously. I couldn’t do any of this without them.”

But Thompson deserves credit, as well. Because few players can succeed against such aggressive defensive attention. She took those defensive looks as a challenge. Thompson got to and finished around the rim better than she ever has before. Her release on her jump shot somehow got even quicker, and she displayed the stamina required to run around the floor essentially nonstop to generate space between her and her defender.

“I knew it was going to be tough every game, so when I do have success, it’s rewarding knowing that it didn’t come easy,” Thompson said.

She’s never been one to take the path of least resistance.

“She’s just a super hard worker. I just think it sets a great precedent for all the other kids. All the kids see, ‘OK, if I want to do this, I need to work this hard.’ And she just kind of pulled a bunch of kids along with her and her work ethic,” Peper said. “She wants to play 100 percent of the practices, she’s at 100 percent of the open gyms. She’s just at everything and does everything. … She wants to be out there and she wants to play, because she just loves playing. That was so easy as a coach, because I didn’t have to push her at all for effort or intensity. That was just all there.”

Thompson said that approach was a product of her upbringing.

“I mean, my parents. I feel like they’ve kind of taught me that forever — you’ve got to work for what you want and give it your all at all times,” she said. “I just love playing. I don’t like to sit out. Every drill, I want to get better. I want to reach my goals. And I think by playing as much as I can, it helps me do that.”

And this experience this season likely helped prepare her for major college basketball next winter.

“I just think she’s going to keep getting better and I think life gets easier when she gets to the next level and teams can’t quite put the same amount of attention on her that they’re putting right now,” Peper said. “I actually think life might get easier moving forward for her.”


Marisa Frost, senior guard, Centennial: North Dakota State commit averaged 22.5 points per game for the Cougars.

Laura Hauge, senior guard, St. Croix Lutheran: St. Thomas commit finished her high school career with more than 560 made triples, a new state record.

Addi Mack, junior guard, Minnehaha Academy: A 3,000-point scorer with one more high school season to play, Mack is averaging 31.4 points a game for the state-bound Redhawks.

Finley Ohnstad, senior forward, Lakeville South: Kansas State commit averaged 16 points per game this season, including a 45-point showing in a December game against Wayzata.

Trinity Wilson, senior forward, Lakeville North: Vanderbilt commit is a big loaded with skill who can also make her presence felt on the glass for the state-bound Panthers.

Related Articles