Greg Amundson won nine girls' basketball state championships while coaching in North Dakota and had 10 players who were Miss Basketball finalists.

Now coaching at Centennial, Amundson saw something new in Paige Waytashek's recent performance against Hopkins.

Waytashek, a 6-foot senior guard, drained nine three-pointers as her Cougars handed the two-time defending Class 4A state champion Royals a 79-70 loss -- their first defeat in 20 games.

"She was consistent the whole game," Amundson said. "And what people don't realize is, I never subbed her out. She played every minute."

Waytashek, the latest in her family's line of standout female basketball players, leads No. 7 Centennial (14-2) in scoring, averaging 15.1 points per game.

She discussed the Hopkins victory, a loss to Osseo two days later and the lessons of both games with Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque.

Q Your mother, Janice Flicker, played basketball at St. Cloud State. Your older sisters, Joelle and Megan, played at Centennial before you. Did you love basketball right away or did the sport have to grow on you?

A Nope, I always wanted to play basketball. Ever since watching my sister Joelle play I knew. It wasn't even a question. When I was younger I was asked what I wanted to be when I was older and I said, "The next Lindsay Whalen."

Q Coach Amundson said he appreciates your competitive streak. Has that been handed down from your mother and older sisters?

A Definitely. I got my competitive juices from my mom and also Megan. I learned a lot from watching her when she was a senior and I was a freshman, like how to be a leader and get everyone involved.

Q You were 9-of-11 from the three-point arc against Hopkins. Give me some sense of what you were feeling that night as they kept dropping.

A Let's just say I banked a three in. Everything felt right that night except one that rattled out -- I got robbed. [Laughs] The stars were aligned. It didn't really hit me until I was lying in my bed. I was like, 'We beat Hopkins.' That will be, by far, be one of my favorite games in my high school career. Our fans stormed the court. We got to the locker room and started screaming. It was awesome.

Q Then two nights later you laid an egg against the Osseo team that ended your season last year. Was that loss the dramatic opposite?

A Pretty much. I think everyone kind of felt this coming a little bit. We were on such a basketball high and talking like, 'We can't lose to Osseo now because we're starting to make a name for ourselves.' So when we lost it was a real heartbreaker, but I think it was kind of a good reality check. We all came together and talked about what we have to do now in the second half of the season.

Q As a captain, what's your message as the team prepares for the stretch run?

A As a team we decided that we don't want to talk about the "H-word" as in Hopkins or the "R-word" as in rankings. Neither of them really means anything because you can't take any team for granted. You've got to bring it every night.

David La Vaque • 612-673-7574