A Lady Bonacker made history on Friday night, becoming the first East Hampton High School female basketball player to score 1,000 points.
Kaelyn Ward, a 17-year-old senior, said she's relieved to have finally met her goal, one that she set for herself when she joined the varsity team in eighth grade. "It's so much pressure off me," she said, though she said she never felt nervous, even when she knew she was so close to breaking the barrier.
Head coach Howard Wood, who broke 1,000 points when he was a Bonacker, said he was very proud of Ward, whom he's known since she was 6 or 7 years old. "To be the first one to do something like this, plus the main thing is she's a good person — that makes it so much better," he said.
Although it did little to detract from Ward's accomplishment, Wood said it was unfortunate that the Lady Bonackers were blown out by nearly 30 points on Friday night. Shoreham-Wading River outplayed the team, 64-to-35.
Ward, a team co-captain, scored a total of 11 points against the Wildcats, hitting the benchmark in just seven. Along with the previous teams East Hampton faced, Shoreham was aware Ward was dangerously close to her 1,000th career point. They were "hell bent" on not having her reach the mark on their watch, Wood said.
When Ward hit the magic number, her teammates ran out onto the court to congratulate and the gym erupted. Wood arranged with the opposing team's coach to stop the game so there could be a small celebration. Her family came down onto the court to give her flowers and take pictures with her. "It was a good moment," Wood said.
Joseph Vasile-Cozzo, the athletic director, said that the entire school is "extremely proud" of her. "It transcended beyond that; The community came out and supported her. It shows how much the community supports the kids and the athletic program, particularly the basketball program," he said.
"It does a lot for the program," Wood said. "Hopefully other girls will aspire to do the same thing. They see what can happen with hard work and dedication," he said.
Ward credited her coach with helping her achieve her goal. "He kept pushing me to do better and better," she said, though she said she surprised herself that she was so close going into this season.
She's not sure where she will attend college, yet, but is hopeful she will find a place on a collegiate team.
For now, she's focused on the rest of the season — Going into Tuesday night's game against John Glenn, the Lady Bonackers are 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the league. and meeting some other goals she has — namely, scoring the most points in a game. The most points ever scored in a girls basketball game is 35, she said. She scored 32 in a game last season.
And, Ward added, "I want to try and pass Coach." Wood, who was inducted into the inaugural Bonac Hall of Fame in 2012, scored about 1,200 points in his high school basketball career.
"Let's hope she does beat me," Wood said. "Starting tonight."
Please join East Hampton Patch in congratulating Kaelyn. Leave a comment below.