Silver Creek freshman Abby Rice hits 1,000 point mark at home, Black Knights defeat JFK 59-18
SILVER CREEK — Achieving the feat of 1,000 career points at the high school level is hard enough to do by the time you graduate as a senior.
But to do it as only a freshman — now that’s impressive.
Silver Creek freshman Abby Rice needed nine points on Friday to accomplish that feat, and she did it in style, drop-stepping her way into the paint for a fancy spin layup with 13 seconds left in the first quarter.
“It means a lot to me,” said Abby Rice about achieving her 1,000th point. “It’s special for sure. It made it even more special tonight being able to do it with my sister on her Senior Night.”
Abby Rice joined fellow classmate on the boys side, Brady Woleben, as the second Silver Creek student athlete to accomplish the goal of 1,000 points this season.
While the points were scored in different manners this season, the accomplishment is equally difficult.
“I’m super proud of Abby’s play,” said Silver Creek head coach Tammy Rice. “Looking back on the decision to bring her up in seventh grade — we had a gap in our program. Abby was our next best skilled player. We struggled going back and forth with what the right move was for her. To be honest, the minute she stepped on the court, she was comfortable.”
Abby Rice first took the varsity basketball court as a seventh grader, scoring 251 points and setting herself up for this kind of moment this early in her career.
“By mid-season as a seventh grader, her team was looking for her to be the scorer,” said Tammy Rice. “She was a shooter when we first brought her up.”
A shooter she was. Abby Rice broke the school’s 3-point record as a freshman — breaking the record that was previously held by Jess Jamison.
Even as a seventh grader, Abby Rice knew she could take another step, and she did that in her eighth grade year by posting another 365 points.
“My game has changed a lot,” said Abby Rice about her transition from a seventh grader. “Back then I used to just shoot, but now I’m not afraid to drive or take the extra hit to make a play.”
Scoring 1,000 points as a freshman puts Abby Rice in rare air, but with three seasons left after this one, she still has higher goals.
“I still want to get stronger and put on some weight,” said Abby Rice. “I want to shoot the ball better. I still have a lot to work on in my game.”
The Black Knights and Abby Rice took care of the JFK Bears on Friday, 59-18 in their final contest of the regular season.
Abby Rice scored 23 of those 59 points, leading the way yet again for a team she credits for a lot of her success.
“As a seventh grader she was just an outside shooter,” said Tammy Rice. “Now she’s doing everything for us. She shoots from the outside, she drives into the paint, she finds the open players — she’s come so far in such a short time.”
Abby Rice also attributes a lot of her success to her trainer, Darren Fenn who was in attendance at the game. Fenn, a graduate of Canisius and former professional basketball player overseas, has been training Abby Rice year-round.
Now, Abby Rice, with 398 points this season, will lead her teammates back towards the playoffs, as the Black Knights will be set up with a home playoff game next week.
“The maturity that it takes to score 1,000 points — it’s really hard,” said Tammy Rice. “You have to have the mental game and you have to play through the bumps along the way. To be honest, there have been moments where she has struggled with that. But she’s seen — at a very early age — box-and-ones, double-teams and she’s handled it well.”
With the playoff brackets to be released later today, Silver Creek is most likely to host Cattaraugus Little Valley on Thursday.
The Black Knights were also able to honor their three seniors on Friday, as Emma Rice, Jaeleigh Cruz and Vivian Liptak were able to play one last game of their regular season careers.
“These seniors have all been together part of the last three years with not just basketball, but soccer too,” said Tammy Rice. “I know Abby was extremely happy to be going for her 1,000th point on Senior Night because she really loves playing with Emma (Rice).”
But the season isn’t over for these seniors, and they want to prolong this season as long as they can.
“I’m really proud of the seniors,” said Tammy Rice. “Jae (Cruz) is a spark player — she gives us that extra push when we need it. Emma (Rice) has just been an overall leader of the team. She puts the team first. I’m really proud of these girls.”