Carleigh Paup addresses a home crowd on Tuesday, Jan. 26 after being recognized for recently joining the Rocket’s 1,500 all-time points club. Paton-Churdan’s Carleigh Paup (behind) has accumulated over 1,700 points in her career and leads all of Class 1A in scoring this season. MARTY BALL | JEFFERSON HERALD

Paup on top of 1A,

cruising through senior season

Carleigh Paup has made quite a splash in the Iowa high school girls basketball scene over the past two months. The senior Rocket, who plays for nearby Paton-Churdan, currently leads the entire state in points, as well as points per game so far this season in Class 1A. Through 18 games, Paup has accumulated 460 total points and averages 25.6 points per game, a feat that no other 1A player has even come close to thus far.

“It’s all very exciting and it definitely builds up my self esteem, knowing that all my hard work is paying off right now,” Carleigh said in a recent phone interview. “It just makes me want to keep pushing and do better and better for not only myself but for my entire team too.”

What’s more is that not only does Paup reign supreme for top scoring stats in 1A, but she’s also a force to be reckoned with when considering all four of the other classes. Only Kailey Burke of Hinton (2A) and Elle Ruffridge of Pocahontas Area (3A) have scored more points and hold a higher average of scoring per game than Paup. Neither of the two find themselves that far ahead of Paup either, as Burke has just 19 more points and a 26.6 average and Ruffrudge has only eight more points and a 27.5 average. When it comes to being recognized at such a high level of competition with other elite athletes however, Carleigh remains humble and focused.

“Actually I try to keep those things in the back of my mind and not think about it too much,” she explained. “It’s not really about how many points I can score or how far up in those standings I can get. It’s more about playing the game that I’m capable of playing and just hoping for the best day in and day out.”

Aside from the success she’s achieved during her senior campaign, Paup’s four-year career with Paton-Churdan is definitely something to note as well. As of last Saturday, Carleigh has racked up an astounding 1,749 total points throughout her prep career with the Rockets. She eclipsed the 1,000-point mark last year as a junior and has been running up her total every game since. So far, her best season came as a junior when she finished with 555 points, compared to 524 points as a sophomore and 210 points as a varsity freshman. It’s been a long, yet very successful ride on the basketball court for Paup. And that ride is still far from over.

“There are still a lot of things I’d like to accomplish, but I’m just taking each game as it comes until the season is finished,” Carleigh said. “Individual success is great, but I try to think more about the whole team and also how we can get as many wins for Coach (Chris) Petersen as we can. I’ve had a lot of fun with these girls and I think one of the main things I’ll take away from my time here is the relationships I’ve gained with everyone. If it weren’t for my teammates and coaches along the way, there’s no way I could be doing what I’ve done so far. They should all get as much credit as I do for what’s happened these last four years.”

With only a few games left in the 2015-16 regular season, Paup and her Paton-Churdan Rockets squad will look to cap off a successful year on the basketball court as they head toward the post season.

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