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Moorhead High graduate Sam Haiby helps lead Nebraska to rivalry victory after 'special' pregame moment

Moorhead High School graduate Sam Haiby has scored nearly 1,100 career points during her Nebraska Cornhuskers women's basketball career.

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Former Moorhead Spuds and University of Nebraska guard Sam Haiby, left, gets presented a basketball from Nebraska head coach Amy Williams to recognize Haiby reaching 1,000 career points near the end of last season. Scott Bruhn, Nebraska Athletic Communications
Scott Bruhn
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LINCOLN, Neb. — Sam Haiby reached 1,000 career points for her Nebraska Cornhuskers during the Big Ten women’s basketball tournament last March, but official recognition of the accomplishment would come later for the point guard from Moorhead.

Haiby was presented a basketball before Nebraska’s home game against rival Creighton earlier this week at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.

“It was cool,” said Haiby in her third season as a starter for the Cornhuskers. “To be able to come home and get that recognition, my parents were able to be in attendance. It was pretty special, it was pretty cool. I have great support from coaches and teammates. It was a pretty special moment.”

The 5-foot-9 Haiby scored 13 of her game-high 15 points in the second half to lead the Cornhuskers to victory against Creighton on her special night. Nebraska is off to a 4-0 start and next hosts North Carolina Central at noon Saturday, Nov. 20, at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

"She found a way to really spark us and we needed everything that she contributed," Huskers head coach Amy Williams said after the Creighton game.

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“We’re excited. We’re off to a good start,” Haiby added. “We’re playing together. You’re going to see us fight every game, no matter the opponent.”

A Moorhead High School graduate, Haiby is averaging 9.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, while shooting 46% from the field and 86% from the foul line.

Jay and Janet Haiby, Sam’s parents, made the drive to Lincoln from the Twin Cities area, where they now live, to be there for the Creighton game and Sam’s brief pregame recognition. Williams presented Sam with a commemorative basketball on the court to honor the accomplishment.

“I thought it was really nice,” Janet said. “She loves Lincoln, she loves Nebraska, I think that’s just a culmination of all her hard work.”

Haiby said the scoring milestone snuck up on her at the end of last season. She scored 24 points against Maryland in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals March 11 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis to surpass 1,000. She got to 1,000 with a 3-pointer early in the third quarter of that game.

Jay said it was nice that Nebraska honored Sam at a home game that he and Janet were able to attend. The fact that it came against in-state rival Creighton made the evening more special, with Sam’s performance helping the Huskers earn a 67-62 victory Wednesday, Nov. 17, before 4,042 fans. Creighton had won the five previous meetings between the teams.

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“Those fans are fantastic and she really appreciates that,” Jay said. “The team has good chemistry.”

Sam said having her parents there made the evening more special.

“I definitely appreciate all the support my parents have given me throughout my entire basketball career. It was important for me to have them down here when I got honored,” Sam said. “I wasn’t too concerned about being recognized. I don’t necessarily love being the center of attention, but it was definitely cool to have my family there.”

Haiby is in her fourth season in the program and has played in 90 games with 60 starts. She played in all 30 games off the bench during her freshman season and has been a starter since the start of her sophomore season.

Sam has 1,078 points, 406 rebounds, 312 assists and 108 steals in those 90 career games. She’s shooting 40% from the floor, 35% from 3-point range and 78% from the foul line.

“I’ve had great teammates, great coaching my whole time here,” said Sam, who could return for a fifth season with the Cornhuskers due to the coronavirus pandemic, but has not yet made a decision if she is going to return next season.

Sam said she always gravitated towards playing point guard throughout her career and it’s the role she’s played with the Cornhuskers.

“I’ve always been the smallest one on my team, so naturally when I was younger I kind of got thrown into that role,” Haiby said. “When I came to Nebraska, it’s where I fit in. I just kind of ran with it from there. This is where the team needs me.”

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Sam has a dog named “Maya,” a chocolate Labrador. She named her after former Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore. Maya also made the trip to Lincoln with Sam’s parents earlier this week.

“They brought my dog on the trip, too, so that was pretty cool I got to see her,” Sam said. “Any time I get to see her, it brightens the mood.”

Sam said she gets nostalgic when she receives messages from friends, former high school teammates and people in the Moorhead community.

“That’s when it hits home, you realize where you come from and how far you’ve made it,” Sam said. “I’m very grateful to come from where I did come from and have people still watching.”

Related Topics: BASKETBALL
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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