By Suzanne Weiss / Director of Public Relations
MANITOWOC, Wis. — Silver Lake College senior forward Danelle Buck has reached the celebrated 1,000-point milestone twice in her basketball career.
On Friday night, the team co-captain scored a game-high 25 points, helping the SLC women's basketball squad defeat visiting Grace Bible College 71-48. In the process, she eclipsed the 1,000-point milestone for her college career.
The 2014 Valders High School graduate also topped the 1,000-point benchmark during her prep basketball career.
"I never imagined that this would happen in high school and college," Danelle said. "It was never my goal, it just happened that way, and I'm thankful for it."
For Danelle, it's been the love of the game that's kept her going, not the pursuit of points.
"What it comes down to is passion, desire and heart to just want to play and have fun overall," she said.
Danelle was quick to credit her teammates for their roles in her accomplishments, saying, "I couldn't do it on my own. It's always the team that backs me up and gets me there."
During her high school and college basketball careers, she bounced back from shoulder injuries to her shooting arm. Despite her surgeries, she always got back in the game and gave it her all.
"Danelle has been an awesome player for us for the last 2 1/2 years," said SLC women's basketball head coach Mike Flentje, who praised her leadership skills. "She's a hard-working individual. Her offense and her defense are outstanding. To reach a 1,000-point milestone is an accomplishment she totally deserves."
Scoring 1,000 points was much harder in college basketball, Danelle said.
"Of course college is a higher-level game," said Danelle, who transferred to SLC after her freshman year. "It's faster, it's more competitive and there's the shot clock. You have 30 seconds to score. It's a faster moving game in general. And the three-point line is farther than what it is in high school."
As team co-captain, Danelle likes to lead by example.
"If we're down as a team I have to pick them up and encourage them, give them hope that we can compete and win and play at this level of basketball," she said. "I'm not setting myself up to score. I always make sure my teammates are set up to score. I'm there to set an example for the freshmen to get them ready to be leaders in the future."
Danelle has been playing basketball since fourth grade.
"At first I was scared, then I started to have fun," she said. "I grew up with siblings who played basketball. My dad was our coach at home. I've always been a competitive person and had the drive to want to play and get better."
Danelle was the only one of five basketball-playing children in the family to go on to play the sport at the college level.
She has enjoyed a number of highlights in her college basketball career during the past few years, including being named USCAA First-Team All American as a junior.
Danelle also considers herself to be fortunate to have competed in the USCAA National Championships the past two years. Flentje said she was instrumental in helping the team earn a trip to Pennsylvania both years.
"The fact that I am able to play college basketball is a blessing in itself," she said. "But making it to the national tournament two consecutive years is beyond anything I would have ever imagined."
Another highlight had romantic overtones.
Five days after Valentine's Day in 2017, she and SLC men's basketball player Tommy Bentley (now an assistant coach for the men's team) got engaged on the basketball court in front of fans of both teams.
Tommy got down on one knee and proposed to Danelle after a men's home game. Danelle smiled, responded affirmatively and hugged Tommy as the crowd cheered.
"It was the most incredible and memorable moment," she recalled.
They plan to marry some time in 2020, but first they want to finish college, find jobs and settle on an area to call home.
Danelle, who plans to graduate in December 2018, is double-majoring in early childhood and elementary education and minoring in math.
She would like to work with students, but hasn't decided if that will be through classroom teaching or in a different capacity.
Danelle also would love to coach basketball ... just not right away.
"If I start coaching right after college, I'm not sure if I could be happy staying on the sidelines," she said with a laugh.
PHOTO: Danelle Buck/Photo by Benjamin Wideman