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Sports & Rec

Maleighya Estes Joins 2,000 Point Club

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South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Craig Wollman

Three schools, a buzzer-beater in the state tournament and now, 2,000 career points highlights White River’s Maleighya Estes high school resume.

Estes scored her 2,000th career point Monday night at St. Francis. Knowing that her 2,000th point was a possibility during the game, St. Francis planned to stop the game so Estes could celebrate the moment with her teammates, coaches and family.

“It was definitely special,” Estes said. “Of course, I was having some jitters going into the game knowing how far away I was. Once I finally got it, it was like a relief and getting to do it with the girls, and the people I was around was definitely a blessing.”

Estes joins former teammate Caelyn Valandra-Prue in the 2,000 point club. Valandra-Prue scored her 2,000th point during last season’s state title run, and is now running track at the University of South Dakota.

“It was definitely a dream that I had set, and a big goal I had set since I was a kid, and seeing Caelyn do it last year, it became a big opportunity, knowing that I could work as hard as I could to get there,” Estes said. “It was a good feeling knowing that I will be a part of history.”

For her coach, Jared Bouman, he has had a front row seat to Estes’ work and progression over the last two years.

“I know how much she’s in the gym and the dedication, the work ethic and all the things that it takes to dedicate yourself to the sport, she’s done that,” Bouman said. “She’s one of the most deserving people I’ve been around. I tell her this all the time, and it’s not by chance that she’s where she’s at.”

Estes started out at Lower Brule her 8th and 9th grade years, and transferred to Lyman her sophomore year before spending her final two years of high school with White River.

Estes had her spotlight moment during the 2020-21 season as well. In the Class B state tournament last March, Estes hit a mid-range jumper as time expired to send her team to the state title game.

“The crazy thing is, I had missed a couple shots from that spot and coach Bouman set me aside and said he had full belief that I can make it and that just fueled my fire to execute the play,” Estes said.

Even with the buzzer-beater and the state championship game win, Estes’ favorite memory from her time at White River so far comes off the basketball court.

“It definitely has to be state, and it’s not even about the playing and the accomplishment of being the champions, it was how we all came together and every night, we’re all in each other's rooms and we couldn’t stay away from each other,” Estes said.

Now, with 2,000 career points and a state championship behind her, Estes and the White River Tigers have one last goal for the next month.

“It’s state for sure,” Estes said. “That’s been our goal since last year, the day after state (in 2021), it was to get to state again and we are working hard for it.”