Listerman and O’Hara achieve 1,000 career points in home closer

Julianna Russ

     As the basketball fell gracefully through the hoop, the buzzer rang to life. The typical thrill of the backboard’s assault was amplified by the crowd’s roar. Every Bluebird basket is beloved, but this one was especially important. It marked a defining moment in Highlands basketball history.

     Thirty minutes later, another historic basket would be made. 

     On Monday, March 8, during the team’s final regular season home game, two Highlands girls basketball players achieved one of the sport’s highest honors. Seniors Kelsey Listerman and Rory O’Hara both reached the thousandth point in their varsity careers, a momentous accomplishment that is representative of their work ethic and talent. 

     In order to reach 1,000 points, a player must average approximately 250 points per year. Considering that only points scored in high school games are counted towards the total, this adds yet another layer of difficulty. 

     According to Coach Jamie Richey, reaching 1,000 points is a rare feat.

     “Probably three to five girls have scored 1,000 points in my coaching career…I think we’ve had 19 girls in Highlands program history that have scored 1,000 points.”

     Richey herself scored upwards of 4,000 points during her six years as a Ladybird basketball player, and she noted that watching her own players reach such a distinct milestone was significant. 

     “To reach that goal of scoring 1,000 points is a big accomplishment for these two young ladies. They’ve put a lot of time and effort in crafting their skill in basketball. To be able to do that, in the last regular season home game, means a lot to them.”

     At the start of Monday’s game against Lloyd Memorial High School, Listerman was positioned to surpass the 1,000 point mark with just one basket. O’Hara needed to score 22 points in order to do it. Both players succeeded, with Listerman being recognized in the first half and O’Hara in the second.

     Listerman transferred from Oak Hills High School to Highlands last year, and has since become a standout player on the team. However, she noted that switching schools did not come without challenges.

     “Coming here, I definitely knew I had something to prove, just because I was new. It is hard coming in as a junior and not knowing many people.”

     However, she was able to easily establish herself after the initial acclimation period. She explained that she used quarantine to her advantage this season, practicing 90 minutes per day, six days per week. 

     Listerman also detailed the personal significance the 1,000 point milestone had for her, coming from a basketball family.

     “[M]y dad coaches and played, my uncle [coaches and] played, obviously, and my grandpa coached. But it’s just big for me because I love the game and playing with my best friends. Just getting to have that accomplishment with them was huge for me.”

     O’Hara also held a personal connection to the 1,000 point achievement. 

     She explained, “When I was a little girl, my dad used to work [at Highlands]. We would go around the school and I would see the 1,000 point plaque. He said, ‘I’ll never forget you looked at that plaque and said, I want my name up there.’ So that has been a huge milestone ever since I was little, and it’s just amazing that I got to accomplish it.”

     While Monday night was a manifestation of O’Hara’s childhood dreams, she noted that it was born of blood, sweat, and tears, too.

      “It’s not something easy. It takes patience, too. I’m not going to lie, for a minute a lot of people, including myself, might’ve thought that I wasn’t going to get it [Monday]. It was a big stretch. But one of my [Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)] coaches told me, be patient. That stuck with me, because I knew that whenever I got it, it would be meant to be.”

     The girls have been hard at work for the past four years individually, but Richey also emphasizes the way the 1,000 point accomplishment reflects on the team as a whole.

     “It’s a lot of hard work, not necessarily individual, but also team. You know, they have to have good teammates that are willing to make that extra pass. It’s more of a team game.”

     Both Listerman and O’Hara are planning to continue their love of basketball at the college level. 

     O’Hara is committed to attend the University of Tampa in Tampa, FL. 

     “I am super excited. I love the coaches down there. One of my milestones is to get 1,000 points down there, too.”

     Listerman is undecided about where she will attend, but is currently discussing options with multiple universities. 

     O’Hara reflected, “It’s a huge accomplishment of mine. A lot of hard work, ever since I was a little girl, and a lot of patience.”

     Listerman and O’Hara. 

      Two new names in the Highlands girls basketball history books. 

      Two new names that will evidently be celebrated at the college level as well.