Two for the ages: Park's Lamberty, Lurken reach 1,000 point milestonePark’s dynamic duo of Larissa Lurken and Sydney Lamberty each hit the 1,000 point milestone last week.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
Entering the season, three players in the history of the Park girls basketball program had scored more than 1,000 points for their career.
Last week, the Wolfpack added two more.
Park’s dynamic duo of Larissa Lurken and Sydney Lamberty each hit the 1,000 point milestone last week.
Lurken, a junior point guard, went over 1,000 points in Park’s 66-58 win over Woodbury on Tuesday, Jan. 24, with 15 points in the game. Three days later, Lamberty, a sophomore guard, netted her 1,000th point in the Wolfpack’s 51-33 win over East Ridge, hitting a jumper with 7:15 remaining en route to a game-high 16 points.
“It’s so exciting for our girls basketball program,” Park head coach Stephanie Tolkinen said. “The other three girls all attained the 1,000-point milestone in their senior year, so both of these girls should be the top two in scoring when they graduate. I knew where these two girls were at at the beginning of the year and I’ve been looking at this for about a month. But, I never would have imagined that it would’ve happened in the same week.”
Lurken said it felt good to be able to celebrate the milestone along with Lamberty.
“I’m so glad we did it the same week,” Lurken said. “It’s so cool that we got it at the same time. It’s funny how we did it against Woodbury and East Ridge – our two biggest rivals. That kind of makes it even better.”
Lamberty said she hoped to break the 1,000 point mark in the same game as Lurken.
“We were trying to each do it in the Woodbury game, but this is just as awesome,” Lamberty said. “I never thought I’d get to this point until this year. It feels like it isn’t real. It’s a big accomplishment, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”
Good friends off the court and a formidable backcourt combo on the court, Lamberty and Lurken make Park’s offensive engine go. Lurken is the Wolfpack’s top 3-point shooter, while Lamberty’s strength is driving to the basket. However, each girl can shoot from outside or slash to the hoop. Also, the two young players are the team’s best passers and each uses their long, lean frames to anchor Park’s defense.
Tolkinen said the fun part is that she believes both players aren’t at “the top of their games yet.”
“It goes to show what is possible with hard work and the extra time in the offseason that these kids put in,” Tolkinen said. “I’ve told the girls that they had the potential to reach those milestones, but I don’t think those goals were their biggest priority. But, to realize those things in their high school career is a great accomplishment. They work hard to make themselves better basketball players and they still have a lot left in them.”
Overall, Lurken is fourth on Park’s all-time scoring list and Lamberty is fifth. Park 2002 graduate Ashley Smith is the school’s all-time leading scorer with over 1,533 points, followed by 2009 graduate Katya Leick (1,484) and 2008 graduate Jackie Voigt (1,252).
“I’ve witnessed every one of these girls hit the 1,000 point milestone as a coach at Park,” Tolkinen said. “It’s exciting for me as a coach to be a part of something that doesn’t happen very often in the game. It’s really special. Those kids all mean a lot to this program.”
Voigt and Leick each went on to play Div. I basketball.
“Each one of them went on to play college basketball somewhere,” Tolkinen said. “That’s exactly what Sydney and Larissa want to do as well. They’re very driven to take their basketball skills to the next level. Becoming a better basketball player every day is a step toward that.”
For the time being, the Park coaching staff and student body is happy to know Lurken and Lamberty have a lot of time left wearing Wolfpack green and white. Next season, Lurken and Lamberty could each surpass Smith on the all-time leading scoring list. And, in the 2013-14 season, Lamberty may even eclipse the 2,000-point mark. Minneapolis South 2009 graduate Tayler Hill is the state’s all-time leading scorer with 3,888 career points.
Lurken and Lamberty each played their first-ever varsity game at the same time – a 48-39 loss to Tartan in the 2009-10 season opener – and have been starters for Park ever since. As a freshman in 2009-10, Lurken led the Wolfpack in scoring at 11.5 points per game. Lamberty, an eighth grader that season, was second at 10.3 points per game. Last year, Lurken scored 14.0 points per game and Lamberty scored 12.3 points a contest. Park went 3-24 in Lurken and Lamberty’s first varsity season, but improved to 15-13 last year. This year, Park is celebrating a breakout season at 14-5 overall and 9-2 in the Suburban East Conference. Currently, Lamberty leads the Suburban East Conference in scoring, netting 19.6 points per game. Lurken is sixth in the conference at 16.9 points per game.
Tolkinen said the journey has made every one of the Park’s players better.
“Their teammates have been able to celebrate this with them and they are so happy that they’ve been able to be a part of this,” Tolkinen said. “It’s partly their accomplishment, too, because these kids couldn’t have done it without their teammates.”