HAWLEY, Minn. — When Hawley senior Paige Thompson wants to work on her basketball skills, she often heads to the driveway with her father. There is a hoop with a free-throw lane and 3-point line painted on the surface.

“I’m the designated rebounder,” said Paul Thompson, Paige’s dad. “I have been for quite a few years.”

Paige Thompson has signed to play women’s basketball at Minnesota State Moorhead next season. The 6-foot-2 forward helped lead Hawley to the Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 girls basketball semifinals in early March.

She’s excited to get her college career started and said current MSUM players have already started to develop a rapport with her and the incoming recruiting class.

“The older girls have already opened up to all of us incoming freshmen so much, so I think the thing I’m most excited for is to be on a team with them,” Paige said.

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Hawley senior forward Paige Thompson has a foul line and 3-point line painted on the her driveway, including "24," the number she wore for the Nuggets. She is headed to Minnesota State Moorhead to play women's basketball next season. Submitted photo
Hawley senior forward Paige Thompson has a foul line and 3-point line painted on the her driveway, including "24," the number she wore for the Nuggets. She is headed to Minnesota State Moorhead to play women's basketball next season. Submitted photo

Like most, the coronavirus pandemic has altered the way Paige had planned to prepare for next season with the Dragons. She was going to work with a personal trainer at a gym in Hawley to add muscle and work on her quickness.

“It’s changed a little bit because there are so many unknowns, so we have no idea what’s going to happen in the next couple months,” Paige said.

Paige averaged 16.9 points and 10.9 rebounds during her senior season with the Nuggets after averaging 19.9 points and 19.4 rebounds as a junior. She finished her high school career with 1,485 points in 112 games. She also grabbed 991 career rebounds.

Dragons head coach Karla Nelson said Thompson's game is a cross between Angie Jetvig and Drew Sannes, two former Dragon players who were versatile forwards. The 6-2 Jetvig and 6-3 Sannes are also from Hawley.

"She's going to be able to bring a lot of versatility right away," Nelson said of Paige Thompson. "You have a kid that can run the floor, she can shoot the 3. She can be effective on the inside. She has all the tools. ... She's going to be a very, very good NSIC player."

Paul said he rebounds for Paige around four or five times a week with each shooting session normally lasting at least a half hour.

“It’s kind of our time. We get some shots up, we talk. That kind of thing,” said Paul, who was a volunteer assistant coach for the Nuggets girls basketball team this past season. “She gets up quite a few shots. I just keep tossing back to her. I’m tired by the time we’re done.”

Hawley senior forward Paige Thompson has a foul line and 3-point line painted on the her driveway. Thompson is headed to Minnesota State Moorhead to play women's basketball next season. Submitted photo
Hawley senior forward Paige Thompson has a foul line and 3-point line painted on the her driveway. Thompson is headed to Minnesota State Moorhead to play women's basketball next season. Submitted photo

Paul said Paige has been doing workouts that MSUM has sent her way, but she doesn’t have access to the normal weight training equipment due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“A lot of it right now has been more the cardio stuff,” said Paul, who played college baseball at Valley City State. “It hasn’t been a lot of weight training.”

Paige said she misses being around her friends as her high school graduation approaches.

“I’m saving money, but it's not as much fun,” Paige said with a laugh. “When we got let out (of school) in March for a two-week spring break none of us had an idea that we wouldn’t be coming back … so that’s crazy.”

The Dragons also signed Wayzata guard Lydia Hay, Moorhead Park Christian guard Karley Motschenbacher, Moorhead guard Rylie Polomny and St. Michael-Albertville guard Lily Tennyson to go along with Thompson. MSUM added Weber State transfer Shyanne Loiland in mid-April.

"I think only time will tell how good it will be," Nelson said of the incoming class. "The potential to be pretty good is there. ... I would like to see them make a great impact."