Warriors’ Hakel scores 1,000th in loss

Jessica Hakel

STEPHENS CITY — Jess Hakel knew what was at stake.

The Sherando senior guard needed to make two free throws to reach a milestone. She calmly stepped to the line and it was nothing but net. Her two free throws late in the game during a 68-56 loss to Millbrook on Tuesday night gave her 1,000 points for her career.

“To reach this milestone in my career means a lot to me,” Hakel said. “I just had supportive and motivating teammates that have helped me. It means the world to me.”

As soon as she made the free throws with 2:26 left in the contest, the celebration began. Her teammates mobbed her, and as soon as she was rewarded the game ball she went into the stands to celebrate with her family, which included her brother, Tyler, watching her play for the first time.

“They’re just so supportive. I can’t thank them enough,” Hakel said. “They’ve always supported me. Just having my family here is just a blessing. I couldn’t be more thankful for a better family.”

Millbrook jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, aided by a 3-pointer from Lauren Reed.

The Warriors cut that to one, with a free throw by Audra Sites and a basket by Hakel. The Pioneers ended the first quarter with a 6-0 run with baskets by Lauren Reed, Maddie Green and Kelli White.

Sherando’s Heidi Brown and Reed traded three-point plays and Sites scored on an assist from Hakel to cut the lead to 15-10 with 4:32 left in the first half.

Millbrook used a 5-0 spurt to extend the lead to 21-11 with 3:19 left in the half. The two teams traded baskets the rest of the way, with Sites making a layup in the final seconds of the half to cut the lead to 28-20.

The Pioneers pulled away for good in the third quarter. After a basket by Hakel cut the lead to 28-22 to start the third, Millbrook went on a 17-3 run. Lauren Reed had five of her game-high 24 points during the spurt to give the Pioneers a 42-25 edge with 3:23 left in the third.

“Lauren is an incredibly good shooter,” Sherando coach Mike Marsh said. “She’s going to make her 3’s. If she gets open, she’s tough.”

Sites tried her best to bring the Warriors back. She scored 14 straight points over the third and fourth quarters for Sherando, and then Heidi Brown hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 61-45 with 4:10 left.

“Audra has this heart that’s as big as a basketball, and tonight everybody saw it,” Marsh said. “This is the Audra I’ve been waiting to see all season.”

After a Green basket, Hakel then hit four straight free throws, including the ones to reach her milestone. The free throws cut the lead to 11, but the Pioneers scored the next three points to put the game away.

Green finished with 14 points, and Erika Reed had 11.

Sites had 21 points to lead the Warriors. Hakel finished with 14, to move her to 1,002 points for her career, and Brown had 15 for Sherando.

“Any player that gets a thousand points, that just says something about their endurance, their willingness to work hard in season, out of season to be the best they can be,” Marsh said. “Jess is one of those girls who has committed herself to being a very, very solid basketball player. … I can’t say enough about how much she does for us, but also how happy I am to see her get this milestone. It’s awesome. I’m happy for her, and I’m happy for the team.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com