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Maidens' Mowen hits milestone

December 23, 2002|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - When fans walk into Waynesboro's gym, one of the first things to come into eyesight is a blue banner hanging on the far wall, on which is displayed all the 1,000-point scorers in school history.

Before Friday night, the list included four girls' players - Nicki Straley, Stacey Hardman, Julie Mesaros and Heidi Marks.

Someday soon, an embroiderer will add another name to that banner - Kira Mowen.

Needing 14 points to reach 1,000 Friday night, Mowen struggled in the first half, scoring only four. But she found her offense in the second half, erupting for 24 of her 28 points - including her 1,000th - and in the process carried the Maidens back to .500 with a 65-61 upset of previously-undefeated Biglerville.

"It means a lot to me," Mowen, a senior heading to Illinois next fall, said of her newly-reserved spot on the banner. "We can try to get a league banner, but now I'll always be up there."

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"Those names up there, they're phenomenal players and great kids," Waynesboro coach Steve Smith said. "Kira's name belongs in that group."

As successful as the night turned out for Mowen and the Maidens (4-4), for the game's first 16 minutes, it looked like Mowen might have to wait another week to reach her milestone.

Mowen was clearly tight in the first half, making only one field goal - a 3-pointer three minutes in - and missing several looks from within 10 feet.

"I was trying to force things too much, and I could tell I was trying to force too much," Mowen said.

Late in the half, Mowen hustled to retrieve an offensive rebound near the baseline, but blew the lay-up attempt and was visibly frustrated.

"She was pressing in the first half, and we talked at the half and we tried to get her to relax," Smith said.

Mowen made a steal and a short jumper less than two minutes into the second half, but still seemed uneasy for the first five minutes of the half. That all changed when, with Waynesboro trailing by two, she swished a 3 from the right wing with three minutes left in the third quarter.

"When she made the first 3 on the wing, she started gaining confidence and her teammates rallied around her, and it made a big difference," Smith said.

"Once I nail a shot, I know I can keep shooting and it will go pretty well," Mowen said.

So she kept shooting. And it kept going.

Mowen made a jumper from the top of the lane with 1:40 left in the quarter, then hit another 3 from the right corner with 1:12 left for points 998, 999 and 1,000 - earning a standing ovation from the crowd as the game was stopped and Mowen was given the game ball.

She added one final 3 with 54 seconds left in the quarter, finishing with 13 points in the frame, and quickly shifted gears from getting her milestone to getting the Maidens a victory.

"I could focus on the team and getting the win," Mowen said. "I wasn't focused on scoring, I was focused on passing, playing defense and helping the team."

Mowen scored 11 more points in the fourth quarter, and set up three other baskets with assists. Her drive through the lane and dish down low to Megan Reed for a lay-up gave Waynesboro a 61-59 lead with a minute left.

"Kira was able to penetrate, and she stepped up her game (in the second half) tonight," Smith said. "We had a lot of players who stepped up. 65 points is phenomenal."

Biglerville's Chanel Perez got an offensive rebound and scored with 27 seconds left to tie the score. But Mowen finished the game by making all four of her free throws in the final 22 seconds, including a pair with 6 seconds left that iced it.

"It was a nailbiter and a dogfight," Smith said. "It was a battle, and when we play Biglerville, it always is. They were 7-0 coming in and they could have won, but we got the breaks."

The Maidens hit the boards in the second half, outrebounding Biglerville 26-9 in the half for a 43-22 edge overall. Reed had 17 rebounds and nine points, and Jessie Miller added eight rebounds and six points.

"Reed stepped up, Miller stepped up and we started dominating the rebounding," Smith said. "That's what kept us in it, holding them to one shot."

With Mowen struggling in the first half, Biglerville opened up a 22-9 lead early in the second quarter and appeared to have the game under control. But Waynesboro roared back with a 15-0 run - Kelly Carpenter scoring nine of her 11 points during the surge - and took a 26-24 lead into halftime.

"(Carpenter) stepped up in the second quarter," Smith said. "When the other kids were struggling, she picked us up."

Then Carpenter turned the reins over to Mowen, who assured her team a victory and herself a place in Waynesboro history.

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