Imani Christian's Konek reaches 1,000-point milestone as a freshman
There were some tears, some laughs and some selfies with fans for Imani Christian freshman Cali Konek following a 66-63 loss at Winchester Thurston, but for the first girl in WPIAL history to score 1,000 points in a freshman season, the prevailing feeling was relief.
Konek entered Thursday night's Section 4-A matchup with 978 points in her first 21 games. She scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to eclipse 1,000 points, but the Bears made her earn her milestone, holding Konek to a season-low 32 points.
Winchester Thurston pressed, double- and triple-teamed and swatted away several would-be runners in the paint, holding Konek to 18 points through three quarters.
Konek said it felt like a weight slid off her shoulders when she hit a straightaway 3-pointer over two defenders midway through the fourth quarter to score points 1,000 through 1,002.
“Yeah,” Konek said with a laugh when asked if it was a relief to see the shot fall. “But I really wanted to win, too. I wasn't really stressed during the game, but I was really happy to reach that milestone.”
During the next dead ball, Winchester Thurston athletic director Kevin Miller grabbed the microphone near the scorer's table and asked the crowd to join him in recognizing Konek's achievement, one usually reserved for juniors and seniors.
Coming into the season, Konek's mother, Kellie, knew her daughter could and would put up plenty of shots, but she didn't anticipate 1,000 points.
“She can shoot. But I mean, this? No, probably not,” Kellie Konek said of her expectations. “I mean I don't know what else to say.”
Konek wasn't finished once she reached her milestone. Visibly more relaxed, she scored eight points in the final 2 minutes, 20 seconds, bringing the Saints to a 63-63 tie with 53 seconds left. But the Bears' Kayla Small scored a layup late to put WT (10-10, 8-4) over the top.
“The loss is on me,” Imani Christian coach Tru Dixon said. “I'll take that all day long. I wanted to make sure that (Konek) did get it, and the team wanted to make sure that she got it as well. I wouldn't do anything different because today was history.”
There's a chance for more history. Imani Christian (14-8, 7-5) finished fourth in Section 4-A, meaning there will be at least one WPIAL Class A playoff game for Konek, who averages just under 46 points.
Her 32 points in the loss put her at 1,010 points in 22 regular-season games, though she said her whirlwind freshman season has felt much longer than that.
“It's seemed like I've been playing forever on this team,” Konek said. “But I'm glad it's been like that because I really don't want this season to end.”
Andrew Erickson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @AErickson_Trib.