CHATHAM, NJ - There was never a doubt that Veronica Kelly would reach 1,000 career points this season for the Chatham girls basketball team. But on Saturday night, it wasn't a sure thing that the senior forward would reach the milestone before she was whistled for her fifth foul.
Kelly picked up her fourth foul with 4:33 left in the third quarter, needing five more points to reach the milestone.
"Part of the reason why V is such a good, effective player is because she is an emotional player," Chatham coach Joe Gaba said. "I just needed to take her out, settle her down and keep her focused.
"I think a lot of kids struggle when it gets to their 1,000-point night, it's in the back of their mind. They want it so bad, they start rushing things. Once things settled in, we started finding her the ball a little bit. It probably would have happened a lot quicker if they hadn't started with a zone because they really packed it in."
Kelly hit a 3-point basket (see video below) with 1:38 left in the third quarter and then hit a side jumper with 6:50 left in the fourth quarter to make her the 10th Chatham girls basketball player to score 1,000 career points as the Lady Cougars won their fourth straight, 48-31, over Bayonne on Saturday night.
Two years earlier on Jan. 16, 2016, Kelly had thrown the pass to Cassandra Falone for the basket that made her the 9th Chatham girls to score 1,000 points.
Veronica Kelly talks about her emotions during the game that produced her 1,000th career point for Chatham
Kelly, who finished with a team-high 14 points, scored off a running pass from senior guard Chloe Blanc, who was starting her first game of the season. In a game against Bayonne last year, Blanc had torn her ACL going up for a layup. Her return to the starting lineup against the team she was injured against brought her full circle.
"It's amazing, and to win against them, too, on Cougar night, it's what you want," Blanc said. "This shows that the comeback is greater than the setback. It's great for Veronica. I've been playing with her for so long, starting in sixth grade."
The win also was the 399th of Gaba's career and he'll go for No. 400, 7 p.m. Tuesday when Pope John visits Chatham High.
In the afterglow of the win, Gaba preferred to talk about the return of Blanc, who ended with eight points vs. Bayonne (4-8) rather than his coaching record.
"It's no mistake that Chloe is back and we're on a four-game winning streak," the coach said. "She changes the dynamic of our team because she can score, she can pass and she can rebound. She makes us better because she can do eveyrthing."
Veronica Kelly's 3-pointer in the third quarter gave her 998 points, setting the stage for her 1,000-point jumper in the fourth quarter
Camryn Davies drops in a 3-pointer to open the scoring in the second half for Chatham