PHOENIX — Five hundred three-pointers a day.
That is how Ana Resendiz, a senior basketball player at Don Lugo High School in Chino, California, said she prepared for games, all with an eye on her idol who also wore the Don Lugo uniform, Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi.
Taurasi set Don Lugo’s single-season three-point record in 1999, making 96 from long range. Resendiz shattered that mark this year, hitting 136 three pointers for her Conquistadores team, second most in the country.
In recognition of her accomplishment, the Mercury invited Resendiz, her family and her coach, Eric Waltz, to attend the Mercury’s home opener and shootaround Friday at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Resendiz was a bit starstruck when she met Taurasi at the morning shootaround, but the three-time WNBA champion told her that the similarities between the two go beyond their shared success from beyond the arc.
“She told me that she still goes home to her parents’ and hoops at the blacktop courts,” Resendiz said.
The two spent five minutes together before shootaround began.
“Diana briefly told me about the league and who they had on the team. She’s really inspiring. Everyone on my team looks up to her. We watch her play and try to learn from her and bring it out onto the court on game day. It’s surreal. I still can’t believe this is happening.”
Taurasi presented Resendiz with a signed Mercury jersey, an autographed picture, T-shirt, socks and a foam finger.
Taurasi said she was impressed when she heard the news of her record falling.
“I was shocked when I heard it,” Taurasi said. “I couldn’t believe it. It’s huge what she did. She annihilated that record. I’d like to see her keep that record for a long time at Don Lugo.”
She was eager to congratulate Resendiz in person for her three-point feat.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s the high school I went to, it’s where my parents still live and where I grew up,” Taurasi said. “To do that at our high school is a pretty big accomplishment.”
Taurasi said she hopes Resendiz will maintain her competitive drive after high school, a drive that Taurasi is proud to have played at least some role in developing.
“When I went to Don Lugo, women’s basketball wasn’t really a thing. Now, it’s a big deal. For Ana to have a goal to go after while she was there gave her that drive and competitiveness which really took her to the high level of play she sustained throughout the year,” Taurasi said.
Waltz, Don Lugo’s girl’s head basketball coach, said he admired Resendiz and her commitment throughout the season. He worked with Resendiz continuously to perfect her game.
“Being a Don Lugo coach for 11 years, you know the tradition, (Taurasi’s) banners up there and retired jersey,” Waltz said. “It’s surreal seeing her in person and watching her workout.
“Ana was just focused. She put the work in and dedicated to fundamentals. She turned into an elite sharpshooter,” he said. “I knew early on when she was so consistent that she would have a shot of breaking the single-season record.
“I think it’s just a dream. It’s probably hard for her to envision if she’s awake now or not. It all has to set in. This whole day has been surreal and something she will always remember,” Waltz said.
The 500 daily shots were just a part of Resendiz’s regimen as she continually sought to improve as a player. She also would routinely show up at practice 90 minutes early.
“I really wanted to shoot a high percentage during the games, so I knew that I had to work on it a lot to perfect my shot and get the muscle memory down,” Resendiz said. “I put in so much work over the summer and it wasn’t much of a surprise to me that I broke her record. All the hard work paid off.”