Gibraltar senior Payton Pluff admits she was a big fan of former Vikings’ basketball standout Makenna Ash.
“I remember watching Makenna play a lot when I was young,” said Pluff, whose father Randy was Ash’s coach in eighth grade. “I really looked up to her. I loved watching her play and always wanted to be like her.”
Pluff hit a free throw in the second half of a win against Peshtigo on Feb. 8 that moved her past Ash’s school record of 1,177 points. Pluff, who scores 18 points a game, has scored 1,236 points heading into Friday’s home regional game.
“We would sometimes play PIG after practice, and she always beat me,” said Ash, a senior who averages 12.1 points and 13.5 rebounds for St. Olaf College this season. “Even then she had a great shot. I distinctly remember Randy telling me that Payton would always say to him that I was going to break Debbie (Anderson) Kordon’s all-time scoring record, but then she was going to break mine. What do you know – she was right.”
Ash was in the house when Pluff broke the 1,000 point mark in a win over Peshtigo Dec. 20.
“Something that struck me was how capable and versatile she is on the court,” Ash said. “She has the ability to score and be strong in the paint, but is also a threat from the three point line. I have always known Payton to be a hard worker. She has put a lot of time and effort into this sport, and it has clearly paid off. I’m very proud of her and all of her accomplishments.”
Pluff said Gibraltar’s attention has turned to the upcoming regional tournament. The Vikings earned their first ever regional top seed and are looking for the first regional title in school history. Gibraltar hosts Oakfield tonight at 7 pm, and a win would advance the Vikings to the final Saturday night.