In the 2016 Class 3A girls’ basketball title game, then-freshman Destinee Oberg of Holy Angels stole the basketball on the Williams Arena floor, went off the dribble and behind her back, then made a no-look pass to teammate Riley Thalhuber underneath the basket for the layup.
The crowd went crazy during the timeout. As for Oberg? Her body language was a bit bashful.
“Then she nonchalantly walks down the floor like, ‘I do that all day,’ ” coach Dan Woods said. “It was a big-time highlight play.”
The fifth-seeded Stars defeated Winona 51-43 to win the championship. Oberg has been a big part of the varsity team since joining as a seventh-grader. Even with more than 1,400 career points and a Division I career ahead of her, that no-look play is still one that stands out to her coach.
“It showed her whole game,” Woods said.
A 6-2 junior forward, Oberg is part of a Holy Angels squad with similarities to last year’s Class 3A third-place team, minus losing one senior to graduation. The Stars are ranked at No. 3 in Class 3A and are off to a 5-1 start this season. Their only loss was in the season opener, 62-41 to Dowling Catholic (Iowa) in the Thanksgiving Tip-Off Tournament at the University of St. Thomas.
They were a young team last year, playing with a pair of eighth-graders on varsity, and are still young this season, too. Thalhuber and Megan Meyer are the only seniors on the roster and have played on the team since their freshmen years. Woods said he enjoys seeing them setting the work ethic for their younger teammates.
Junior guard Alex Walker is off to a good start, a “nice surprise,” according to Woods. Francesca Vascellaro, a freshman, is back for another varsity season. Plus they have sophomore fraternal twins Emma and Isabelle Henry. Woods said he has 10 players on varsity he feels really good about. Oberg is the leading scorer, a player who stands her ground in the paint, showcasing collegiate-level footwork she’s had since joining the team, Woods said.
Through six games, Oberg is shooting 52.4 percent, averaging 18 points per game for a total of 108 points.
“More impressive would be if you just took her whole stat line,” Woods said.
She has a double-double in all but one game, amassing a total of 90 rebounds, 14 assists and 12 steals. Last year, she finished with 499 points in 30 games (16.6 points per game) with 317 rebounds, 76 assists and 64 steals. Her freshman year before the state tournament included another 345 points, 261 rebounds and 84 assists. Woods noted her high assist total for someone who also scores a lot of points.
Oberg led the Stars with 16 points in a 66-39 victory over Bloomington Jefferson on Dec. 7. In the paint, she was almost constantly double- or triple-teamed. That’s pretty standard, and Oberg said she’s used to it and doesn’t find it challenging.
“It’s always good to know that I always have somebody open to kick it to,” Oberg said.
Woods said she stays even-keeled and does a good job — “better than I would, I can tell you that” — with all the contact she deals with on the court.
Earlier this month Oberg committed to play basketball for Arkansas. It was Razorbacks coach Mike Neighbors who really solidified her choice. She met him a couple of years ago when he was coaching at the University of Washington.
“We just really got along, and I really like his coaching philosophy,” Oberg said.
She’ll continue to work on her all-around game this season, because she said there isn’t ever a time when you should stop trying to get better.
“I feel like my passion and vision has gotten better over the years,” Oberg said.