A conversation with Gabi Haack, Miss Basketball Minnesota

Elk River senior Gabi Haack was an integral part of their state championship team. Photo by Mike Peden
Elk River senior Gabi Haack was an integral part of their state championship team. Photo by Mike Peden /

Gabi Haack entered her senior season with little fanfare.

No one disputed the talent emanating from the native of Elk River, Minnesota, but she lacked the credentials to extend her reach beyond the city of 24,000.

Now, Haack’s name is recognized throughout the state. She anchored Elk River’s 32-0 season that led to a Class AAAA state championship, the first in the school’s history. The 5-foot-10-inch guard finished seventh in the state in scoring this season at 26.1 points per game, including seven games with 30 points or more.

Those attributes were more than enough for Haack to receive Miss Basketball Minnesota honors for 2017. Presented by the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Association, the Miss Basketball award is considered the most prestigious in the state.

“I was kind of shocked. It’s a big award, and I never would have thought I would have got it,” Haack said.

A degree of celebrity followed. Minnesota Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen praised the Elk River team after they defeated perennial power Hopkins to claim the state title, and classmates don’t hesitate to greet her during school hours.

“Girls basketball is a pretty big deal at our school now. Everyone knows who we are,” Haack said. “I just love all the support that the community of Elk River has given us.”

Throughout her senior season, Haack was praised for her poise and versatility on offense. She seldom budged in the face of a double team, and she could beat defenders by driving to the rim or lining up a three-pointer.

From the first game of the year, Haack sensed an opportunity for ascension with Elk River. However, her motivation was fueled by playing on a team with six seniors.

“We just knew that we needed to finish off strong,” Haack said.

Recent Miss Basketball Minnesota winners include Nia Hollie, who now plays at Michigan State, Maddie Guebert, who attends South Dakota State, and Carlie Wagner, who recently completed her junior season at Minnesota. Five past winners established careers in the WNBA: Coco and Kelly Miller (1997), Tamara Moore (1998), Tayler Hill (2009) and Rachel Banham (2011).

Haack isn’t worried about her WNBA prospects yet, but she will continue her athletic ambitions at Bradley.

“There’s going to be a lot of training in the summer, but I think it will be a really fun transition,” she said.

For more insight on Gabi Haack and her rise to stardom, watch the video below.