Katie Kneeland walked off the Centereach High School basketball court smiling for more reasons than one.
Most important, her Pierson team was heading to the Suffolk County small school championship and was a week away from a regional finals match. But less than eight minutes into the Whalers’ 46-41 win over Mattituck February 20, she hit a career milestone when she scored her 1,000th point.
“I never wanted to think about it, and thought eventually, if I worked hard enough, it would come,” said Kneeland, who became the third female in school history to reach the record. “I knew from the beginning my role was to score. It’s just great to finally take away a huge accomplishment from that.”
She hit the mark on a free throw with 32.7 seconds left in the first quarter. The senior forward finished with a game-high 19 points, to bring her current points total to 1014.
“She’s amazing,” teammate Chastin Giles said. “She gets better and better every game, every practice. She’s always the one telling everyone to calm down and really motivates our team, even when things go bad.”
While Kneeland said her team was anxious, and a little tired, especially during a 13-0 run that put the Tuckers up by one point late in the third, head coach Kevin Barron said he knew his star forward would come through. She ended up snapping Mattituck’s run with an open look under the basket off a feed from Giles.
“She’s put in a ton of work, here, with travel basketball, she’s constantly shooting,” Barron said. “She’s really evolved into a nice offensive player this year, and is a great rebounder for us too. She’s just great all around.”