The Des Moines Register

Future ISU player Tanke shines on national stage

- Tommy Birch Des Moines Register Tommy Birch, the Register’s sports enterprise and features reporter, has been working at the newspaper since 2008. He’s the 2018, 2020 and 2023 Iowa Sportswrit­er of the Year. Reach him at or 515-284-8468.

As Johnston High School senior and Iowa State women’s basketball signee Aili Tanke was wandering through her Arizona hotel, she ran into Oakland University star Jack Gohlke who was in town for the State Farm College Salm Dunk and 3-Point Championsh­ips.

Tanke was there for the high school part of the event but made sure to grab a picture with the college star so she could send it to her brother and some friends.

“They all thought it was so cool,” Tanke said.

It was a huge moment for Tanke, who was suddenly thrust into the same league as some of the top shooters in amateur basketball. She proved that she is one of the best high school shooters in the nation by winning the women’s competitio­n earlier this month.

“It was super fun because I didn’t really know what to expect,” Tanke said. “I’ve never been in a 3-point contest before.”

Tanke was already coming off a huge senior season that saw her establish herself as one of the top contributo­rs from long-range in the state of Iowa. She ranked fourth in 3-point percentage by shooting it at a 49.6% clip. Tanke, who averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

The nationwide competitio­n in Arizona featured two rounds and five balls at five racks, including bonus balls that were worth double. The top two finishers in the first round squared off in the second round. That included Tanke, who prepared for the contest by shooting off racks leading up to the event. The preparatio­n worked as she connected on 19-of-25 shots in the finals to win.

“It’s really cool because I’ve always been a 3-point shooter,” Tanke said. “So, having a whole competitio­n that’s just based around what you do the most was really fun.”

Tanke then took on the winner of the high school competitio­n for boys but fell short. Still, it was a successful trip and a huge opportunit­y on a big stage for Tanke. The performanc­e could be a preview of things to come for her in college. Tanke plans to move to Ames in June to begin classes. She’ll kick off her career with the Cyclones later in the year.

“This is such a great time to go into Iowa State with all of the returning players,” Tanke said. “The freshmen class is so good and having Audi (Crooks) on the inside, it’ll really open up the 3’s on the outside. So, that’ll be good for me.”

 ?? LILY SMITH/THE REGISTER ?? Johnston's Aili Tanke got to show off her 3-point shooting on the national stage this month.
LILY SMITH/THE REGISTER Johnston's Aili Tanke got to show off her 3-point shooting on the national stage this month.

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