By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO February 7, 2003 With 3:59 remaining in the third quarter of Monday nights Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division II girls basketball game between Valley Central and host Monticello, Lady Panther forward Deirdre Smith stepped up to the foul line for two shots.
After accepting the ball from the referee, Smith made the first free throw. Monticello Coach Karen Atack then ran onto the court to congratulate Smith.
She was quickly joined by Monticello seniors Jen King and Tricia Parks, who were carrying a bouquet of flowers and a basketball with the words 1,000 Points Deirdre Smith emblazoned on it. King and Parks were two of Smiths teammates on the Monticello Lady Panther volleyball team which reached the Section IX Class B title match back in November.
A surprised Smith was congratulated by Atack, King, Parks and all of her basketball teammates as the contest was momentarily halted.
While Smith achieved a personal milestone, she and her teammates had trouble stopping the Valley Central offense. The Lady Vikings outscored the Lady Panthers 22-7 in that key third quarter to post a 65-40 victory.
Leading Valley Central (7-6, 5-1 Division II) to the win were guards Meghan OConnor and Alisha Lowe. OConnor knocked down four 3-point shots on her way to scoring a game-high 22 points, while Lowe added 17 points for the Lady Vikings.
VC Coach Tim Faulkner also credited his teams defense for the victory.
The third quarter [scoring] run was big, but we also changed our defense in the second half, Faulkner said. We played a diamond-in-one on Deirdre Smith. Shes such a great player and we didnt want her to have any good shots.
Faulkner noted that the win clinched a spot for the Lady Vikings in the upcoming Section IX tournament.
This has been a great season for us, he said. We only had three wins last year and now we have qualified for sectionals.
Smith finished the game with a team-high 19 points, which increased her career total to 1,006 points. She recorded a double-double by grabbing 12 rebounds in the contest.
Bagina McCline added nine points and 18 rebounds for Monticello (2-12, 0-5 Division II) and Lakeisha Powell finished with six points.
Following the game, Smith explained that she was not sure what was going on when Atack ran up to her following that special free throw.
I had no idea, I didnt even know I was close to 1,000 [points], said Smith, a junior. It was a really big surprise.
When asked about reaching the 1,000-point plateau, Smith had a simple, honest reply.
It feels good, she said.
Atack noted that Smith is the fourth Monticello girls basketball player to score 1,000 points in her varsity career. The others are Tamisha Johnson, Katina Mack and Tasha Snowden.
Shes such a good kid, Atack said of Smith. Everybody likes Deirdre. You saw how happy her teammates were for her tonight.
The veteran coach also praised Smith for her unselfish, team-first mentality.
You never see her running up to the scorers table and asking How many points did I have tonight?, Atack said.