WEST FARGO — Jadyn Feist didn’t grow up shooting hoops in her driveway or watching basketball on TV.
She has a different backstory than the West Fargo Sheyenne star players who have come before her. Feist was a latecomer to the sport.
In the current age where basketball camps start in kindergarten and travel basketball begins in second grade, the 5-foot-11 junior forward didn’t start playing the sport until she was in middle school.
In a short amount of time, Feist has taken strides to become one of the strongest competitors in the Eastern Dakota Conference, nearly averaging a double-double, in points and rebounds, each game.
“For a kid to come along that really doesn't pick up a sport like basketball until she's in middle school and then be as successful as she's been, it’s unique,” Sheyenne head coach Brent Hintz said. “It's not something that is just easy. It's not something that happens every day.”
Two years ago, Feist was on Sheyenne’s "C" team. Now she’s the Mustangs' leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 17.3 points per game and 9.3 rebounds in the past 10 games, shooting 61% from the field.
Feist was on junior varsity for the first half of her sophomore season until she worked her way up to varsity, averaging 7.4 points per game. Hintz wanted to be patient with her.
“Some of her teammates were starting to get impatient with me, asking, ‘When is Jadyn going to start playing more?’ Right around the holiday time last season we decided to go with two halves and she just kept figuring things out quickly,” Hintz said. “She kept getting better.”
In 14 games, Feist ranks in the conference’s top 10 for highest scoring average with 200 points, 14.3 per game. She’s the East Region’s fourth-leading rebounder with 9.3 per game and has the fourth-highest field goal percentage (57%), and sixth-highest free throw percentage (77%).
Feist has become the player her team relies on.
“She’s going to give us points, she's going to give us rebounds, she's going to give us defense every night,” Hintz said. “She’s a kid that's become really consistent for us who we can count on that’s going to give us maximum effort. She's that stabilizing force that everybody else can kind of play off.”
Feist has given Sheyenne (9-7, 9-6 EDC) something the team hasn’t had in its short history as a program — a dominant player in the lane and someone on both ends of the floor who can score, rebound and defend multiple positions.
“Saying that she's given us a presence in the lane maybe doesn't give her enough credit to what she all can do,” Hintz said. “She’s one of our best shooters. She has range all the way out to the 3-point line. She's not just someone who scores right by the basket, she is a kid who can step out and hit the jump shot.”
Feist has put in a lot of work to catch up with the kids who have been playing the sport longer, putting up extra shots in the gym on her own and going to Family Wellness in Fargo on the weekends.
“It’s not like she just woke up, rolled out of bed and was a basketball player. She decided to commit herself to it,” Hintz said. “She decided she wanted to be a better basketball player.”
Knack for the game
The multi-sport athlete for Sheyenne didn’t grow up in a basketball family. She watched her cousins play when she was younger, but that was about it. To this day, she seldom watches the sport outside of playing it.
In sixth grade, Feist’s friend was on a travel team that needed a post player. She took the offer.
The following year was the first time Hintz saw Feist at a basketball camp.
“She was tall, and she just looked like an athlete. You could tell that basketball was new to her, as far as playing with kids who probably were playing travel basketball since they were in second or third grade,” he said. “She was still trying to figure the game out.
When she was on the court, Hintz said there was something there — a natural instinct.
“She just seems to understand where to go, what to do," he said. "She is gifted with strength and height, but also she has terrific feet. She's quick. She’s an athlete.”
Also a standout track athlete and volleyball player for Sheyenne, Feist received all-conference honors and was named to the all-tournament team at state volleyball this year.
The girls on Sheyenne’s roster had some roles to fill this year after the program graduated a handful of key players. After losing their first two games of the season, the Mustangs have done a nice job over the last month of adjusting to life after the 2018-19 senior class, Hintz said.
“I think it would be irresponsible if I didn't say that Jadyn Feist plays a big role in that, and I think everybody understands that,” Hintz said. “Everybody has improved on this team this year, but she took a major step forward this year.”
Feist isn’t a kid who worries about asking questions, Hintz said. She wants the knowledge, and isn’t shy about asking things that some players take for granted.
“She is unique. You always hear people say, ‘You never want to assume and you never want to give up on a kid because you never know when they might bloom.’ The reality is, it’s not common,” Hintz said.
Feist, who scored a career-high 25 points against Valley City earlier this season, doesn’t look at her numbers. With an impressive stat sheet, she said it just feels good to do it for her team.
The Mustangs will look to Feist as they head into a rivalry matchup against West Fargo (8-7, 8-6) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, at Sheyenne High School.
Hintz will get Feist for one more season, and believes she's just starting to scratch the surface.
“I think we're just starting to see a little bit of what she's capable of,” Hintz said. “And I think we're going to see she's capable of a lot, lot more.”