NEW KNOXVILLE — The New Knoxville Rangers did everything in their power to help Paige Lehman get 1,000th point with the game already well in hand on Monday night.
The persistence paid off. Lehman knocked down a free throw to score the 1,000th point of her career in the waning seconds of the Rangers’ 44-22 win over St. Henry.
Lehman had 12 of the 17 points she needed to reach the milestone at the half on 6 of 8 shooting, but the Redskins made it tough on the Ranger senior by packing the paint with a zone defense in the second half.
“We knew she was close and everybody was looking for her,” New Knoxville head coach Tim Hegemier said.
Lehman, a player who plays almost exclusively on the block, even hoisted up a 3-point attempt with just over a minute to go to reach it. “I thought I’d give it a shot,” she said, laughing.
Finally with 11 seconds left, Lehman got the ball against double team on the block and drew the foul. After missing the first free throw, she canned the second to reach 1,000.
“It’s just a lot of hard work and teamwork and it all comes together at the end,” Lehman said.
Lehman received the game ball from Hegemier and ran up the bleachers to give it to her parents and grandparents.
“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and great coaching,” Lehman said.
It was a night to celebrate Ranger milestones as New Knoxville improved to 16-4 on the season and 6-2 in the Midwest Athletic Conference.
Lehman joins teammate and fellow senior Haley Horstman as a member of the 1,000-point club.
“That doesn’t happen too often,” Hegemier said. “They’ve been starting for four years for us and are two hard-working girls and they deserve every bit of it.”
Horstman was honored before the game for becoming the all-time leading scorer in program history last week at Fort Recovery. Jill Henschen Heitkamp, the holder of the record for 30 years at 1,178 points, presented Horstman with the game ball.
Horstman scored 20 points to lead the way on Monday, with Lehman scoring the 17 points she needed to reach 1,000.
“I’m just happy we could both get to 1,000 points in the same year,”Horstman said.
The duo have led New Knoxville to a 73-18 record over their four seasons with a regional berth two seasons ago. Now they have the Rangers sprinting towards the regular season finish line at full speed, hoping to make another long jaunt into the postseason.
New Knoxville has held its opponents to fewer than 40 points in 12 straight games. New Knoxville wraps up MAC play at home against Coldwater on Thursday and then ends the regular season on Saturday at home against St. Marys at noon.
New Knoxville roared out of the gate by scoring the first five points and 17 of the first 19 points put on the board.
Ally Mikesell led St. Henry with eight points. Taylor Koesters added seven points.
St. Henry is 8-12 and 2-6 in the MAC. The Redskins host Fort Recovery on Thursday and then play the Indians for a second straight game in a sectional at Coldwater on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.
New Knoxville faces the winner of that Fort Recovery-St. Henry game on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 6:15 p.m. at Coldwater for a sectional title. The winner advances to the Wapakoneta district.