From timid 8th-grader to senior star, Payne shining for Shanley basketball

Fargo Shanley's Reile Payne leads the Eastern Dakota Conference in scoring (20.6 average), rebounding (10.6) and steals (6.3). David Samson / The Forum

FARGO — Fargo Shanley girls basketball coach Steve Jacobson says it’s impossible for him to pick out a favorite memory in the career of senior guard Reile Payne.

In her five years on the varsity squad, she has built up quite a list of memories for her coach — from shining in the state tournament with classmate Hadley Huber as freshmen in 2017, to her buzzer-beater to defeat West Fargo Sheyenne this year on Jan. 7, and everything in between.

“I think I could go back and watch 30 tapes on her and find a special memory in every single one of them,” Jacobson said. “She is a special young lady and she’s been special to Shanley High School. In my heart, I’m glad I got the opportunity to coach her.”

Payne is on pace to eclipse 2,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds before this season is over. She’s at 1,757 points and 861 rebounds with 11 regular-season games remaining. Payne leads the Eastern Dakota Conference in points (20.6), rebounds (10.6) and steals (6.3) per game this season.

“When she was brought up as an eighth grader, I was (former Shanley coach Tim Jacobson’s) assistant,” Jacobson said. “She was a scared little kid in the corner that eighth-grade year. She got pushed and it was an eye-opener for her like, ‘Oh, this is what they expect of me.’ And then as each year went by, she knew that there was more expectation on her to get better. She’s always strived to be the best she can be in anything and it shows right now.”


Payne has come a long way from being that scared eighth grader on her first day of varsity practice. Now, she is a senior and a captain for a team that has state championship aspirations.

The Deacons are 8-2 near the midway-point of the season with their two losses coming to undefeated Devils Lake and 7-4 Fargo Davies. But Payne said they learned from those games and are taking it one game at a time on their attempt to return to the state championship finals.

Payne has title game experience, playing on a state championship team as an eighth grader and falling just short as runners-up in her ninth-grade season.

“After our first game, we said, ‘We’re 1-0, 26 more.’ Our whole goal is a state championship, obviously, like any team,” Payne said. “But our mentality towards it has been really good. I think losing those two early helped us to get where we are now. Every practice is going to be good, it’s going to be quick, we’re going to get pushed to our limits. I think that will help now coming into the late stretch where bodies start getting tired.”

The senior guard showed off her ability to come through in the clutch two weeks ago as she made a deep, buzzer-beating 3-pointer with a defender in her face to defeat West Fargo Sheyenne. With 3.4 seconds to go, she took the ball all the way up the court and heaved the ball at the hoop just before the final buzzer sounded.

“I didn’t even think I could hit a shot like that, I was hoping somebody else could,” Payne said. “One of my teammates said, ‘You’ve got it. We’ll get a shot up.’ I looked at the clock and there was a second left, so I threw it up. And then I closed my eyes and I opened them right as it went in.”

Reile’s dad, Dustin Payne, was there on the sideline to experience that shot, just as he has been for most of her varsity career as an assistant coach at Shanley. He has coached Reile’s teams going back to her traveling teams in elementary school. Finding a balance between basketball and normal life may have been tough for them once, but now it’s just second nature.

“You can only be a proud dad, isn’t that how it works?” Dustin Payne said. “But at the same time, you’ve got to divide the two. You don’t treat her any differently than any other kid on the team. You’ve got 17 kids and that’s exactly how it should be.”


When Dustin first started coaching her, Reile said her mom, Courtney, implemented a 24-hour rule. They weren’t allowed to talk or argue about a game for 24 hours after it happened. But that has gone away and now they’ll analyze games and discuss them right away.

“Courtney, unfortunately, during basketball season she has to be a basketball mom — I don’t know how else to put that,” Dustin Payne said. “She’s the rock for both of us. She puts up with a lot of stress. At times I feel terrible for it. She takes it like a champ, and she is awesome and an anchor for both of us.”

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