MARION — Scoring your 1,000th career point is a memorable moment.
Scoring your 1,000th career point on the same night when you hit a tie-breaking free throw in the last minute to help beat your county rival is even more special.
Marion senior Abby Bayer reached four figures for her career and scoring the last of her game-high 22 points with 34.0 seconds left to put the Wildcats ahead for good in a 59-54 win over Herrin in the Lady Cap Tip-Off Classic at Cuss Wilson Gym on Thursday.
Bayer, who reached the magic number on a foul shot with 1:54 remaining in the first half, wasn’t told before the game how many points she needed to hit 1,000.
“To reach that goal is crazy; it’s surreal,” she said. “To do it on the night we beat Herrin is like the cherry on top of a banana split. They’re a big county rival. You hear about Marion-Herrin growing up. That’s why we were going crazy in there after the game.”
The Tigers (2-2) almost spoiled Bayer’s big night. They overcame a 37-20 deficit midway through the third quarter, canning six of their 10 3-point shots in the second half and tying the game at 53 on two foul shots by Marissa Russell with 39.6 seconds remaining.
But Marion came through in the endgame. Lauryn Kadela’s foul-line jumper with 18.2 seconds left gave it a 57-54 lead, and her free throws with 2.6 ticks on the clock sealed the outcome.
Kadela finished with 12 points for the Wildcats (3-0), who can win their tournament Friday night by knocking off Vienna. Russell and Madisyn Blankenship scored 12 points each for Herrin, while Madison Russell and Madison Johnston tallied 11 apiece.
“In my years in high school, I don’t think we’ve ever won a tournament,” Bayer said. “It would mean so much to do that to start this year.”
In the night’s first game, Vienna’s balance was too much for a superb individual effort by Gallatin County’s Hailey Chubb in a 57-47 victory.
Lindsey Holhubner paced the Eagles (2-1) with 18 points and nine rebounds. But she had plenty of help this game as point guard Haleigh Keeling scored nine of her 12 points after halftime, while Alyssa Jones netted 10.
The big thing for Vienna coach Jamie Kerley, though, was how composed his team played. After committing a total of 38 turnovers in their first two games, the Eagles cut that way down to 10.
“You commit 10 turnovers, you’re going to win a lot of games,” he said. “That was a much more complete game.”
It had to be in order to overcome Chubb, a senior who is carrying the inexperienced Hawks by herself early in this season. Chubb fired in 40 points on 12-of-19 shooting, sinking six 3-pointers and scoring all 26 of her team’s second half points.
The rest of her teammates managed just seven points and made only two shots as Gallatin County dropped to 0-3.
“Hailey came to play. She does every night,” said first-year Hawks coach Tiffany Sauls. “She can do it all, but she can’t do it all, know what I mean? She has to get some help.”