RED HOOK – Jessica Wilkinson easily maneuvered up the left side, deftly dribbling around a series of defenders. After creating space, she calmly set herself and fired from the left wing.
Wilkinson didn’t have much of a reaction; rarely has she allowed emotions to seep out. She simply jogged back. There was little more than a smile to suggest she was proud of herself.
That scene is one of the earliest memories coach Andrew Makebish has of Wilkinson, a Red High School girls basketball star. What he described was a goal she scored as a seventh-grade soccer player. She was a member of the modified girls soccer team that he coached.
It’s been several years, but her basketball coach still often thinks back to that moment when moments like these arise:
Wilkinson surpassed 1,500 points and became the all-time leading scorer in Red Hook girls basketball history on Monday night, scoring 21 points in a 47-40 home victory over Millbrook.
“I’ve been playing for such a long time and I’ve watched my older sister and my aunt reach milestones, so it feels good to do it myself,” the senior said, referring to Julianne Wilkinson, who scored her 1,000th point in 2014. Their aunt, Lisa Moray, had starred at Roy C. Ketcham High School. “I’ve put a lot of work and time toward this, so these are some of the rewards of that.”
The 5-foot-6 guard now has 1,520 career points, surpassing Diesa Seidel’s program record of 1,513, set in 1998. She notched her 1,000th point last January in a win over Poughkeepsie.
Wilkinson, who is averaging 24 points per game this season, entered needing only a point to reach 1,500. She achieved that with 7:22 left in the second quarter, driving off the left wing for a floater. She tied the Raiders record, and the score at 28, on a free throw with 3:05 left in the third. She then broke it 50 seconds later, driving inside from the top of the arc for a lefty layup that tied it at 30.
The game was stopped for a two-minute ceremony in which Wilkinson was presented the souvenir ball, posed for photos with her parents and then was mobbed by teammates. All the while, there was little more than a smile to suggest she was proud of herself.
“The smile was my big reaction,” Wilkinson said. “But everyone always says I don’t have much of a reaction when I’m playing sports.”
When the game resumed, her mid-range jumper gave the Raiders their first lead, 32-30, with 1:14 left in the third. Her fourth steal and free throws with 15 seconds left sealed it.
Her movements on the soccer field weren’t too different from the ones she has become known for on the court. Wilkinson is a dynamic scorer and playmaker who alternates between point and shooting guard. Her crossover, spin move and quickness have made her difficult to guard, and the penetrating drives and lefty jumper have befuddled defenses during her five varsity seasons.
Kalie Harrison had 11 points and Alexa Fracheschi added eight points and 12 rebounds for Red Hook (12-2). Millbrook’s Erin Fox scored 14 points.
Watching Wilkinson as a middle-schooler on the soccer field, the talent and athleticism were immediately obvious, Makebish said. But it was the aplomb — a humble confidence and unassuming attitude — that convinced him she would become a standout. So all these milestones eclipsed, the head-turning plays, eye-popping stats and accolades haven’t come as a surprise.
“To watch her is something special,” Makebish said of Wilkinson, a Journal All-Star last season. “I’ve talked to other coaches about it, and we marvel at her consistency. To do what she does despite being the focal point of defenses, it’s impressive. She’s always just quietly gone about her business and done really well.”
With three regular-season games remaining, the Mid-Hudson Athletic League tournament and a potential playoff run, Wilkinson could be within reach of surpassing the 1,615 points that Highland’s Lisa Pritzlaff set in 2001. That would move her into 17th all-time among Section 9 girls basketball scorers.
Wilkinson, too, remembers that old soccer play. Her breakaway drew the goalie a few feet toward her, then she used her left foot to loft a high shot toward the right corner of the net.
“I was definitely excited,” she said with a chuckle. “Even if I didn’t show it.”
Stephen Haynes: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4