A grand performance

ATTICA – It was like that one scene in Space Jam, where all of Michael Jordan’s TuneSquad team was sitting along the sidelines with injuries, bumps and bruises.

However, if you watched the movie you would know that ToonSquad didn’t give up and they didn’t quit; they overcame adversity and defeated the Monstars in the final minutes. Seneca East did the same thing Saturday afternoon at home, battling through three injuries and lots of physical play to pick up a 72-67 overtime win against Norwalk.

Not to mention Ashton Daniel became the fourth Tiger to eclipse the 1,000 point career mark.

“It feels good, we’ve had three physical teams this week. We had Edison, Carey and Norwalk and we ended up 2-1, so overall it was a good week and we’ll take care of ourselves tonight and tomorrow and come back strong next week,” Daniel said.

Unlike Michael Jordan, there was no pressure for Daniel as she wasn’t going to Moron Mountain if the Tigers lost or she didn’t hit the 1,000-point mark. Not even an injury could phase Daniel.

“We knew she’d get it today one way or the other, and even though she’d got injured, she would have came back and tried,” coach Dave Stallings said.

Seneca East led 29-20 at the half, with Daniel accounting for nine of the points. She was just a layup or jumper away from the 11 needed to reach the milestone.

She got her chance 18 seconds into the second half, but tight defense from Norwalk’s Sydnie Fetherolf led to Daniel taking a tumble and the Trucker’s scoring on the other end.

Meanwhile Daniel was left at the far end of the court still clutching her right shoulder. She left the game moments later and returned midway through the period with a taped right shoulder.

“I came back not only for thousand but for the team; came back to help them get the win because that was the most important thing today,” Daniel said. “Oh, it was crazy, but we didn’t let it (the injury) be a distraction. Everybody stepped up tonight and it feels good; we came back and everybody participated and helped with the thousand.”

It wasn’t long after, 1:44 left in the third quarter to be exact, that Daniel grabbed an offensive rebound from a missed Brittany Brookes’ shot, put it back in while being fouled, and her 1,000th career point was scored.

Immediately after, fans, friends and family erupted with excitement and officials stopped the game while Seneca East Athletic Director Frank Speziale acknowledged the accomplishment.

“It was emotional. It’s a big point in my career and I was happy to get it and everybody was happy for me in the crowd. It was just emotional to see,” Daniel said.

She then shared a big hug with Stallings before heading back onto the court.

“I’m just proud of Ashton, I’m happy for her. I wish her old coaches could have been here to witness this because they all had a piece in this,” Stallings said. “She’s put the work in, it’s not like anything has been handed to her.”

Scoring 1,000 points doesn’t just happen overnight, though. Daniel credited the success off the court as much as on, as well help from her team.

“It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of time in the gym, working in the off-season and working with your teammates, just hard work basically.”

Daniel came back on the court, sank her solo free throw and continued to pile on points, finishing with a game-high 20. Seina Adachi, a freshman foreign exchange student from Japan, matched Daniel’s scoring output.

Norwalk’s Kaiti Beveridge and Jacelyn Thomas led the Truckers with 20 points a piece.

Daniel has 1,009 points to date.

But it’s more than just about a number to Daniel. Being one of four seniors and a team captain, there are still a few goals she wishes to accomplish before her high school basketball career is over.

“We want to have a winning season and pull through in tournaments, and just get as far as we can since we have four seniors on the team and it will be our last time playing,” Daniel said.

Seneca East battled back and fourth deep into the fourth quarter and went into overtime matched at 56 with Norwalk. The Tigers opened the lead from there, and when a Daniel layup with 1:19 left made it 68-59, there was no looking back.

For Stallings, it was a complete team effort.

“We’ve got 22 girls in the program and they’re 22 good girls. They work together, they root for each other, which is the key; just a great group of kids. I couldn’t have walked into a better situation,” he said. “I just want to thank the kids; the kids don’t quit.”

For Seneca East girls basketball, calling it a “grand” day would be an understatement.