By MERT OKUR
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Every once in a while, fans are presented with an opportunity to witness a milestone in high school sports. This was the case on Thursday night when the Atlantic Christian girls basketball team took on Oakcrest in a regular-season, nonconference game.
Atlantic Christian senior forward Shannon Murphy came in needing just three points to reach 1,000 for her career.
She took care of that early on, but eventually the Falcons pulled away for a 55-39 victory.
“There were definitely some nerves, but I knew I was going to get three points at least; I was pretty confident in myself,” Murphy said.
Once tip-off rolled around, Murphy’s nerves quickly turned into a cool, collected demeanor. A couple minutes into the first quarter, Murphy’s moment arrived. She is a good spot-up jump shooter, and got into her favorite spot for the corner 3-pointer. With a swift pass from a teammate, she pulled up and drained the shot for her 1,000th career point.
Once the ball went through the net, the entire gymnasium erupted with cheers. With streamers parading and fans shouting, Murphy said she allowed herself to get lost in the moment.
“I was really excited. I’ve been waiting for it since last game was kind of a disappointed in not getting it, but getting it today was pretty great,” Murphy said. “I would absolutely rank this the greatest milestone of my career. This is something I’ve watched people do growing up and I was like, ‘I want to do that, too.’ So it’s pretty awesome to get here. I (got to) 500 rebounds last year, which was exciting, but I was aiming for (1,000 points) this year.”
Teammate Dakota Hitchner picked up her 2,000th career point in a win over New Foundations of Philadelphia earlier this season.
“(Dakota) and Shannon are great,” said Oakcrest sophomore guard Brielle Smith. “Shannon got her 1,000th career point tonight, so we’re happy for her since most of us have played AAU with her before.”
The weight of reaching the milestone being lifted was evident as Murphy accepted gifts and posed for pictures with friends and family.
“I mean, I put toward this a whole lot of dedication and effort. I didn’t really think I’d get there when I was a freshman, but I just kept working hard and putting in the work needed. We work hard in practice, and before I started playing here I always wondered how on earth I’d score a 1,000 points.”
Hitchner and Murphy have more than 3,000 points combined, which shows how much effort they put toward their craft.
“We worked really hard during the offseason and played AAU. It’s pretty great to get here with her, we’ve been playing since we were little, so it was great,” Murphy said.
Murphy becomes the 11th girls basketball player to score a 1,000 points at Atlantic Christian School.
“It’s exciting, but it’s not so much my name being up on a banner, but just the community and the school, and it’s great to be known for my athletics,” said Murphy, a Linwood resident.
Murphy finished with 10 points. Oakcrest, which drew the No. 10 seed in the upcoming South Jersey Group 2 state playoffs and will travel to No. 7 Cinnaminson, jumped out to an early lead and was able to hold off the Cougars in the second half to improve to 9-10 overall.
“It was a really good game,” Smith said. “We came out strong and stayed that way for most of the game.”
By MERT OKUR