INDIANS 41, COSMOS 22
One thousand points had been on Kelsey McGayhey’s agenda for a long time, going back to when she was a fourth-grader playing for a Catholic Youth Organization team. Her mother told her that one day either she or her older sister, Katie, would score 1,000 career points for Shelter Island.
That day was Friday.
Kelsey McGayhey became the first 1,000-point scorer in team history Friday, a day that was full of drama, excitement and celebration for Shelter Island, not to mention a 41-22 defeat of The Ross School in East Hampton.
“I just kept picturing this moment over and over again,” McGayhey said, “and it’s exactly how I wanted it to happen.”
Needing one point to reach the 1,000-point mark, McGayhey didn’t waste much time. Just seven seconds into the Suffolk County League VIII game she attempted a shot that missed. But it was only 26 seconds later when, after receiving a pass from Megan Mundy, McGayhey put up a smooth 10-foot jump shot that went in, hitting nothing but net.
The senior center clapped her hands together and then brought them to her face in disbelief as she received a standing ovation. The game was stopped while the emotional McGayhey, with tears in her eyes, was presented with flowers and hugged by teammates.
“It’s a major achievement,” Shelter Island coach Peter Miedera, holding a microphone, told the assembled crowd, which included a healthy representation of Shelter Islanders who were eager to witness the historic feat. “It couldn’t have happened to a better person.”
The experience made an impact on other people, too. Haley Willumsen, a senior guard for Shelter Island who has known McGayhey since childhood, said the memory of the event will be with her for her entire life.
“She did it,” Willumsen said. “I think it’s awesome. It’s the record at our school, so obviously it’s really hard to accomplish, and it shows how much of a great player she is.”
By the time she headed to the bench to applause with 1:23 left in the game, McGayhey had scored 16 points, raising her career total to 1,015. She shot 7 for 19 from the floor and 2 for 2 from the free-throw line. In addition, McGayhey had 8 rebounds, 5 steals and 1 assist.
Miedera said the achievement may be something McGayhey appreciates even more in the years to come.
“Once you pass a threshold like that, your name is going up on the gym [wall], and generation after generation is going to see that and you know that’s forever,” he said. “You forever have that. It doesn’t define you as a person, but it defines you as a special ballplayer. She made her mark.”
After McGayhey scored 20 points in Shelter Island’s previous game, a win over Pierson/Bridgehampton three days earlier, there was no question that she would get the point she needed for the milestone on Friday. Among those in attendance were plenty of Shelter Island fans, including the school’s boys basketball team, cheerleaders and McGayhey’s parents, Pat and Dave.
McGayhey, who was still emotional during a postgame interview, said: “When a whole wave of people started coming in [to the gym], I was like: ‘Oh my God. All these people are here for me.’ Honestly, it kind of just shows how many people support and love me.”
A smiling McGayhey received a warm round of applause from Shelter Island fans when she walked onto the court for pregame warmups. She seemed to be in a jovial mood. Later during warmups, she noticed a reporter who had been covering the team in the run up to her quest for 1,000 points. She turned to him and asked in a joking manner, “Are you following me?”
A McGayhey basket gave Shelter Island (9-4, 7-2) an 18-16 lead by halftime.
The Indians took control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring Ross by 16-0 and limiting the Cosmos (1-10, 0-8) to only one field-goal attempt in the quarter. McGayhey was responsible for 10 of those points, including a layup at the buzzer ending the quarter.
“Our offense starts with our defense, and we picked up defensively,” said Miedera, whose team forced Ross into committing 41 turnovers.
Ajiah Jones-King led Ross with 8 points, and teammate Autumn Williams grabbed 11 rebounds.
It was the eighth win in nine games for Shelter Island, and a day in the basketball life of Kelsey McGayhey that she will long cherish.
“It was great,” she said, “it really was.”