FARGO – Fargo Shanley senior Sarah Jacobson is approaching an individual career milestone that will cement her place among North Dakota's list of elite high school girls basketball players.
Jacobson is 13 points away from breaking the state's unofficial all-time Class A career scoring record held by former Devils Lake standout Durene Heisler, who scored 2,120 points from 1980-85.
Jacobson, a North Dakota State signee, averages 19.5 points per game and broke Shanley's school scoring record last month. She currently sits at 2,108 career points – a total she began to compile as a seventh grader. Since then, Jacobson has continued to pile up points among other things, like three first-team all-state honors while playing a major role in Shanley's two state championships the past two seasons.
"I'm extremely blessed," Jacobson said. "I'm thankful for all the opportunities that I have had and the great coaches that I've had. I couldn't have done it without my teammates and parents. Ultimately, I give the glory to God. The individual records are cool, but I think the biggest accomplishment has been the championships that Shanley has won as a program. I think we'll look back and remember those the most."
Shanley's quest for a three-peat and its current 56-game winning streak are sure to grab plenty of headlines in the weeks to come, but Deacons head coach Tim Jacobson said his star point guard is a unique talent.
"Sarah's unselfish play stands out the most," Tim Jacobson said. "She is one of the few kids that averages up near 20 points per game, but she also gives out 10 assists per game consistently. It's always team first with her, and that's why I think her own success has been so great."
He also said Jacobson's point total could have been much greater.
"I'm sure she could have scored a lot more points in her career if she would have wanted to do that, but she understands from the team standpoint by sharing the ball it makes us all better," Tim Jacobson said. "I think that is why we've enjoyed the success we have over the last couple of years."
Shanley has defeated its opponents this season by an average margin of 39.2 points, which has led to Jacobson sitting on the bench for most of the second half in many games. In Saturday's 98-36 victory over Devils Lake, Jacobson scored 29 points but didn't play in the final 13 minutes.
High scoring totals run in the Jacobson family.
Jacobson's mother, Pat (Smykowski) Jacobson scored 2,097 points at Lidgerwood High School from 1979-1984 before becoming an All-American at North Dakota State. Jacobson's older brother, A.J., is North Dakota's all-time Class A boys leading scorer with 2,002 points and now plays basketball at NDSU.
"I still get the 'Oh, you are A.J.'s little sister,' and a lot of people know my mom so people will come up to me and say 'I watched your mom play in college and I watched her in high school too,' so I'm definitely known as a member of the family."
Pat was Sarah's coach for her youth traveling basketball team.
"She took me to the gym and gave me a lot of pointers," Jacobson said. "She has given her knowledge of the game to me and has helped me become the player I am today."
Jacobson eclipsed her mom's prep scoring total on Saturday and now can lay claim to being the scoring champion of her family – an impressive bragging right.
"It is a significant accomplishment for her," Pat Jacobson said of her daughter's quest for the scoring record. "To be able to contribute to Shanley's team as long as Sarah has is a privilege and a blessing. Her competing for the team and experiencing the team success are the things I'm most proud of."
Being able to chase the scoring record in the process of contributing to Shanley's push to become just the third Class A program to win three or more consecutive state titles is something Jacobson said has been hard to put words to.
"It's unbelievable," Jacobson said of the Deacons' current run. "It has been a fun ride with a great group of girls. It has been fun competing with them and accomplishing what we have."
Below is North Dakota's unofficial list of the all-time leading scorers in Class A high school girls basketball.
Rank – Name – School – Years – Points
1. Durene Heisler - Devils Lake - 1980-1985 - 2,120
2. Sarah Jacobson - Fargo Shanley - 2011-2016 - 2,108
3. Jeanette Fox - Four Winds-Mandan - 1983-1988 - 2,061
4. Angie Welle - Fargo Shanley - 1993-1997 - 2,013
5. Marlee Finley - Four Winds-Mandan - 2003-2008 - 1,889
6. Brittany Geffre - Fargo Shanley - 2001-2005 - 1,873
7. Megan Roehrich - Fargo South - 2007-2011 - 1,745
8. Mary Perizzo - Mandan - 1994-1998 - 1,735
9. Kathi Fischer - Jamestown - 1973-1976 - 1,562
10. Jessica Kielpinski Mandan 2003-2007 1,535
Note: Maple Valley senior Rylee Nudell holds the state's unofficial overall girls basketball scoring record with 3,231 points.