OAKLAND CITY – Jackie Young plays basketball like the game was invented for her.
The Princeton High School star is always in control. Pressure? You’d never see it on her face or in her game.
But you’d better believe Young felt it, at least a little bit. When she sank the free throw Thursday night to give her 3,086 career points and push her past Shanna Zolman for the top spot on the Indiana high school girls career scoring chart, she could breathe a little easier.
“When I shot that free throw, it was a relief,” Young said.
Jackie Young breaks the record. pic.twitter.com/QmENFsd2bb— Kyle Neddenriep (@KyleNeddenriep) January 15, 2016
Class 3A No. 1 Princeton defeated Wood Memorial 48-26.
The 6-foot Young, a Notre Dame recruit, didn’t know exactly how many points she had when she stepped to the free throw line with 3:30 left in the game. Princeton led 38-22. Young had 27 points, putting her dead even with Zolman atop the list.
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Young took three dribbles, eyed the rim and let it fly. Swish. As she reached to <FZ,1,0,9>slap hands with Hannah Brewer and Brooke James, the Princeton crowd erupted in applause, holding up pre-made signs that read, “3,086 and counting: Jackie Young, Indiana Girls Leading All-Time Scorer.”
The game stopped and the crowd of more than 3,000 – on both sides – cheered Young’s accomplishment. The public address announcer recognized her as the all-time scoring leader and Indiana High School Athletic Association Assistant Commissioner Sandra Walter made a presentation at midcourt.
Young then climbed up several rows of bleachers to hug her mother, Linda Young. What did she say?
“Congratulations and that she loved me, I think,” she said with a laugh. “There were so many people talking around us, it was hard to tell.”
Young used the word “amazing” several times to describe the moment. Then briefly, in a postgame interview, she started to cry.
“It’s kind of emotional,” she said. “You try to hold it all in … but I worked hard for it. It’s really amazing. An amazing feeling.”
Thursday was the 16th birthday for her younger sister, sophomore Kiara Young. Her birthday was upstaged, slightly.
“That’s OK,” Kiara said. “She earned it.”
Wood Memorial made her earn it. Young had just eight points at halftime, all on free throws. There was considerable talk before the game that Wood Memorial would slow the tempo and do all it could to keep Young from breaking the record in its home gym, a strategy that worked in holding her to a season-low 16 points in a 51-27 Princeton win at Wood Memorial on Dec. 23.
Wood Memorial coach Johnnie Bartley had juniors Brenna Maikranz and Chloe Bartley shadow Young, forcing Princeton’s other players to shoot and make plays. The philosophy worked to perfection in the first half as Wood Memorial spread the floor and worked the clock methodically for a shot.
Princeton, which had been held below 60 points only once coming in (also against Wood Memorial), led just 14-13 at halftime. Young missed three shots in the first quarter, including one relatively open 10-footer in the lane. It missed long, off the back of the rim.
Young, a point guard who rarely forces the action, made all eight of her free throws in the first half. But she went into the locker room 0-for-6 from the field, including a shot from her knees at the buzzer that missed short off the front of the rim.
Young’s ascension to the top of the list seemed inevitable after she set a single-season state record as a junior with 1,003 points – the first girl to crack the 1,000-point barrier. She came into the season already ranked No. 14 on the career list needing 796 points to break Zolman’s mark.
Through 20 games this season, Young was averaging 38.4 points a game for defending state champion and Class 3A No. 1 Princeton (20-0).
Young got it going in the second half, hitting shots in transition. She scored 11 points in the third quarter, putting her within nine of the record. Two more drives, two free throws and a baseline jumper tied her with Zolman.
All that was left was the free throw for the record. How would she celebrate?
“Well, we have school in the morning,” she said. “So we’ll probably just go out to eat somewhere.”
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.