PAINTSVILLE, Ky. – With the type of performance fans have come to expect here in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, Jenkins High School’s Whitney Creech entered the record book in style Tuesday night.
Needing 63 points to become the state’s all-time leading scorer, Creech scored a career-high 71 to lead the Cavaliers to a 90-87 overtime victory at Paintsville.
A 5-foot-9 senior guard who has signed with Western Kentucky University, Creech now has 4,957 career points. She joined the varsity team at Jenkins as a fifth-grader – scoring five points – and has averaged at least 21 per game since her freshman season. In 22 games this season, she’s averaging 50.3 points for her squad that improved to 11-11 with Tuesday’s victory.
MORE COVERAGE | Photos from Whitney Creech’s record-setting night
Creech broke the record of Highlands’ Jaime Walz, who finished with 4,948 points during a high school career that ended in 1996. Walz, named Kentucky’s Miss Basketball as a senior, also went on to play at WKU and now is the head girls basketball coach at Highlands.
“I couldn’t imagine it any better, getting a new career high and breaking the record and getting a tough win in overtime,” Creech said.
Creech had scored at least 63 points three previous times in her career, but Jenkins coach Ashley Addington figured the record would be broken Thursday when the Cavaliers will play at Perry County Central. Now the focus of that game becomes whether she can score 43 points to reach 5,000 for her career.
“Knowing Whitney, you never know how she’s going to come out,” Addington said. “She’s had three or four 60-point games. But (71) points? That’s mind-blowing. Before the game I was banking on Thursday night, and I think everybody else was, too. But she keeps blowing things out of the water and keeps amazing people.
“Tonight she did it again. … She’s an amazing kid.”
The left-handed Creech hit 28 of 49 shots, including 1 of 5 3-point tries, and nailed 14 of 18 free throws in her 71-point performance. She made three other free throws that were nullified by lane violations. The majority of her points came on drives to the basket.
The 71 points are tied for third-most by a Kentucky girl in a single game, behind only Geri Grigsby of McDowell (81 points in 1975 vs. Feds Creek) and Peggy Gay of Buckhorn (74 points in 1975 vs. Oneida Baptist).
Creech had 23 points at halftime but went 8 of 14 from the field in the third quarter to get to 41 points. Her 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left in regulation tied the score at 74, forcing overtime, and gave her 58 points.
The record-setting shot came with 2:01 left in overtime. Creech got the ball on the right wing, pump-faked her defender into the air, took one dribble to her right and swished a 14-footer to give the Cavaliers an 80-78 lead.
Creech said she was unsure at the moment how many points she had.
“I started seeing the fans cheering and clapping, and the next time down the court my coach said, ‘You got it,’” said Creech, who finished with 13 points in overtime. “It felt pretty good. It’s an honor to be in the position I am and to be able to break that record.”
Creech has become a sensation in her hometown of Jenkins, located on the Kentucky-Virginia border in the southeastern part of the state. A sign in downtown Jenkins has kept a running total of her career points this season and read “WHITNEY CREECH 4,886 POINTS AND COUNTING” before Tuesday’s game.
Another sign entering Jenkins proclaims the town “Home of Whitney Creech 2015 National High School Field Goal Scoring Champion.” Her scoring average of 42 points per game last season led the nation.
“She’s a great kid, and for our community she’s brought a bright spot back to our little town,” Addington said. “There’s nobody more deserving than this girl.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
CREECH ON TOP
Kentucky’s career scoring leaders in girls high school basketball (source: Kentucky High School Athletic Association record book):
- Whitney Creech, Jenkins 4,957
- Jaime Walz, Highlands 4,948
- Geri Grigsby, McDowell 3,952
- Kim Mays, Knox Central 3,726
- Carolyn Alexander, Hazard 3,469
MOST POINTS IN A GAME
The most points scored by one player in a girls high school basketball game in Kentucky (source: Kentucky High School Athletic Association record book):
81 – Geri Grigsby (McDowell) vs. Feds Creek, 1975
74 – Peggy Gay (Buckhorn) vs. Oneida Baptist, 1975
71 – Whitney Creech (Jenkins) vs. Paintsville, 2016
71 – Beverly Smallwood (Dorton) vs. Millard, 1987
66 – Heather Benton (Leslie County) vs. Jackson City, 2004
66 – Melissa Brandon (Oneida Baptist) vs. Cordia, 1996