Heading into the Wednesday night game at Spring Valley, Vikings senior Cierra Carter knew she was 39 points from scoring her 1,000th point.
Carter, who began the season as one of the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association’s elite seniors, had made it her goal to reach that milestone. Averaging 20.9 points per game, Carter was expected to break 1,000 in Friday night’s game at Lugoff-Elgin.
But at halftime of that Wednesday game against Sumter, Carter had surpassed her average and was 19 points shy of the mark.
“Once I realized I was that close, I decided to just go for it,” said Carter.
She finished with 36 points after hitting a trio of 3-pointers in the second half. Coach Anne Long pulled Carter from the game with less than four minutes to go.
“I didn’t want to stop her, but I didn’t have her plaque ready,” Long said.
“She deserves that 1,000th point. Every game she plays every position for us according to where we need her. She’s played hard; she has to rebound, she has to play defense and a lot of times she’s got to do that for 32 minutes,” the coach said after the game.
Carter, who had no intention of holding back, said she was fine with waiting until Friday night to reach the milestone.
“When I saw that I was making shots, I was just going to keep shooting, but Coach told me when we got in the lockerroom that she wanted to wait, and that’s OK,” she said.
For Carter, her final season with the Vikings is about doing extra.
As the squad’s stabilizer, “she has learned to come out of her comfort zone. And, lately, she’s done a better job of using her teammates and she’s been a great team player,” Long said.
After playing alongside Division 1 talents Asia Dozier and Xylina McDaniel in her first two seasons with the team, Carter carried the banner alone as the only returning starter in her junior season.
“She was a surprise to a lot of people we played, that she had improved so much,” Long said. “But this year, she was not a surprise. So we knew she was going to get the best defender, and we talked a lot about how she’s got to just push through whatever she gets.”
“My teammates help me out with the challenge of trying to get me open more, feeding me the ball,” Carter said.
And this season, the senior is more comfortable with having the team built around her.
“The biggest thing is keeping my composure when I’m not scoring the way I feel I should be,” she said. “It’s a lot of pressure, but we’re tightening it up and I’m going to do what I’ve got to do.”
Now, Carter has gone from student to mentor, tending the legacy that was left to her.
“We do want to win the championship again this year,” she said. “Bringing the title back to Spring Valley, we’ve got to have that intensity that Z (McDaniel) and them had, and that’s one of the things we’re focusing on.”
Carter is working on keeping her teammates involved, although with 5.5 rebounds and 3.9 steals, she leads the team in all three categories. Akia Dunlap, Raven Fleming and Megan Davis help balance out the team’s scoring and rebounding, but having Carter at the crux has helped the Vikings push to 12-1 as they battle in a tough region.
“If she plays like she did (Wednesday) night, plays a complete game on both ends, I’ll just be enjoying it,” Long said.