Apparently, Kelly Hughes didn’t have enough on her mind Tuesday besides getting through the school day, preparing for a game against Jackson Liberty and possibly breaking the Point Boro career scoring record held by 1993 graduate Christie Rampone (formerly Christie Pearce), a beloved figure at the Jersey Shore and arguably the Shore Conference’s greatest athlete regardless of gender or sport.
In an act that was clearly out of respect for the Panthers senior, her head coach, Dave Drew, inadvertently made sure Hughes wouldn’t forget what Tuesday night could possibly bring.
“Every class I went to, the first thing we did was my teacher basically announced it to the class because Coach Drew had sent an e-mail to the entire school district,” joked Hughes, who entered the night 26 points shy of tying Rampone’s career mark of 2,190. “All my teachers knew about it, all my classmates knew about it, so everywhere I went, I had a ton of support and I appreciate it all.”
By the time Hughes hit a foul shot at the 5:24 mark of the fourth quarter for her 27th point during a 63-37 Panthers win, the long day was in her rear view mirror. That made free throw gave her 2,191 points, eclipsing Rampone’s mark and putting her right up there with some of the great scorers the Shore Conference has ever seen.
Hughes finished with a game-high 29 points to give her 2,193. That puts her third on the Shore Conference’s all-time scoring list behind former Shore Regional star Patti Delehanty (2,534) and the late Audrey Gomez of St. John Vianney (2,231).
“This was a big night, we were lucky tonight and we weren’t sure if she would get it tonight, but we were preparing for tonight,” Drew said. “I think we were all a little excited, all a little nervous. It’s a big moment for Point Boro, a big moment for Kelly Hughes and a big moment for her teammates.”
Hughes started off quickly, scoring eight points over the first three minutes, 53 seconds on her way to a 13-point first quarter when the Panthers (13-1, 9-0) took a 24-8 lead.
She continued to stay hot into the second quarter, opening up with a 15-foot pull-up jumper at the foul line and a steal in the backcourt followed by a left-handed layup for points 16 and 17.
Throughout the entire game and into the early stages of the fourth quarter, Hughes did a good job of distributing to teammates, while coming off high, low and curl screens in an effort to find space to operate while being face-guarded.
She came off a curl screen, received a pass on the way to the hoop and was fouled before hitting both free throws to tie Rampone at 2,190. She would eclipse the mark two trips later at the 5:24 mark.
“It’s an honor to be associated with Christie Rampone and I can’t wait for my name to be up there with hers,” Hughes said. “I just wanted to make sure I got it at home so I could make sure I had the support of my family, teachers and the community in general.”
Ranked No. 1 in the Asbury Park Press Top 10 poll, Point Boro appears to be best-served getting the pomp and circumstance out of the way with games against No. 3 Middletown South on Thursday, a Central team that has won five of six on Friday and Archbishop Molloy of Queens on Sunday in the Shore Conference vs. New Jersey Challenge.