Another milestone

Rice becomes Chautauqua County’s all-time leading scorer

OBSERVER File Photo by Anthony Dolce Flanked by her parents Tammy and Kevin, Abby Rice holds the commemorative basketball after scoring her 2,000th career point last week. On Wednesday, Rice set the all-time Chautauqua County scoring record.

SILVER CREEK — Significant career milestones don’t happen every game for high school basketball players, but not every high school basketball player is Silver Creek’s Abby Rice.

In fact, in Chautauqua County girls’ basketball history, nobody is like Rice as she now stands alone atop the all-time point leaderboard.

Heading into Wednesday’s game against the North Collins Lady Eagles, Rice, fresh off surpassing the 2,000-career point barrier in her last game, needed 16 points to break the record. When Thursday’s game began, the record, set by Ripley’s Sam Eimers in 2008, sat at 2,018. Now, it belongs to Rice at a total of 2,024 and counting, and Rice was able to achieve this record under pretty ideal circumstances.

“This shows my love for the game and it shows all the hard work I’ve put into the game,” said Rice. “I’m glad I got this accomplishment, especially on Senior Night. Some of (my teammates) I’ve been playing with since fourth grade so I was very proud to get it on this night.”

Similar to how she reached 2,000 points, it didn’t come easily or quickly for Rice, but it put still put an exclamation point on the Black Knights’ 47-27 nonleague victory over North Collins.

Also recognized were seniors Jade Bouvier, Emily Schneider, Meider Arenas, Cam Karcz and Malani Eldridge.

“This particular group of seniors have been with me since third grade,” said Silver Creek coach Tammy Rice, Abby’s mother. “They have been playing as a core of girls that have loved the game of basketball since they were little. Because Abby is graduating with them, these are girls that have swam in our pool in the summer and played at the beach and played at the park and so it was very emotional. They’re an amazing group of girls and I’m super proud of them.”

With all the emotion going into the game, it got off to a slow start as the Black Knights held a 7-6 lead after the first quarter.

“We played much better than we did the first time against them,” said North Collins coach Vince Fininzio. “We rebounded much better this time and that’s what was huge… I was very happy with that. If we can hold our own rebounding against a team like this then going into league play, we should be in better shape.”

While Abby Rice struggled to find her shot in the first half — she had only 3 points at the break — Bouvier scored all 7 of Silver Creek’s points in the first quarter, and added another basket in the second period. Bouvier’s effort on the defensive end also featured active hands in passing lanes, picked pockets, and leaps to keep balls in bounds, helping the Black Knights take a 14-9 lead into the half.

“Jade had an explosive first quarter,” said Coach Rice. “I’m super proud of Jade. She started off very determined and very focused and strong in the hole.”

Out of halftime though, Coach Rice wanted to pick the energy up and her team obliged. In stark contrast to the first half, the Lady Black Knights came out firing. Abby Rice hit a 3-pointer just 10 seconds into the third quarter, and from there kept scoring. North Collins’ Hailey Jasinski also picked up her scoring in the frame, with 7 points, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with the suddenly high-powered Silver Creek offense. Arenas hit back-to-back 3s of her own midway through the quarter, in between Rice scoring a couple of buckets.

“The energy level was low, and coming out of the half, we showed a totally different team than we did in the first half,” said Coach Rice. “We started to press, which brought up the energy level and people started to score and that brought it another notch up.”

Finally, near the end of the third, Abby Rice made a slick post move to find herself an open layup to score the record-breaking basket.

“We made it,” said Rice. “All the hard work and all the stuff you sacrificed was worth it because we made it. We did what we wanted to do.”

Silver Creek couldn’t match their third-quarter scoring output in the fourth quarter, but the game was already well in hand. When the final buzzer sounded, the Black Knights walked away with a win with strong contributions all around. Rice led the way with 21 points, seven assists, nine steals, and 10 rebounds, one of which was the 1,000th of her career. Bouvier finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and five steals; Arenas finished with her 6 points, Eldridge had 4 points, and Cam Karcz and Lucille Jimerson each had 2.

For the Lady Eagles, Jasinski ended the game with 15 points, while Autumn Awald and Michaela Rice each scored 5 and Jaylee Jimerson scored 2.

“This is a stretch we play Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Monday, Tuesday,” said Fininzio. “So, we’ve got some games. Our schedule is really grueling this time of the year anyway.”

North Collins (4-5, 2-2) has a game tonight against Salamanca, while Rice looks to add on to her county record as she and the Black Knights host Sherman on Friday.


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