ATLANTIC – Haley Rasmussen knew she was closing in on a milestone Tuesday night.
She just didn’t know how close she was to 1,000 points.
She found out after shooting a routine free throw midway through the third period.
Taking the pass from Lauren Nicholas, Rasmussen was fouled by Clarinda’s Amelia Heese while driving in the lane on the shot attempt. And with 3:38 remaining, she drained the front end of the two-shot foul ... the one that would go for 1,000 points.
A big cheer erupted, and Rasmussen finally realized what everybody knew had just happened – the milestone.
The game was stopped briefly as a balloon bouquet was brought out to highlight her accomplishment, and her teammates hugged and gave her congratulations.
“I knew I was close, but I didn’t know how many I’d have to score exactly to get there,” said Rasmussen. “It’s a really great accomplishment but like I said, I couldn’t have done it without any of my teammates. They’re what make me better and what help me get my open shots, and the coaches that have guided me the whole time.”
All in a night’s work as Rasmussen was certainly the toast of the game. She’d score 22 points, with the final point coming on the back half of the 1,000th point, in the Trojans’ 71-35 win over the Cardinals.
Funny thing is, it looked for a second she’d never get there.
Rasmussen scored two quick baskets for five points to open the second half and put herself at 999 career points. But on every subsequent possession for awhile, she kept dishing off to teammates, who scored at will against the Cardinals.
The Cardinals did keep it close early on, trailing just 17-14 after the first quarter and staying within no more than three possessions until midway through the second quarter. That’s when Atlantic went on an 18-4 run to take a big 40-21 halftime lead and never was threatened again.
Jada Jensen was another big contributor to the Atlantic offense, scoring 18 points. Tessa Grooms, after seeing limited minutes against Carroll Kuemper just four nights earlier, came back with a strong 15-point effort off the bench. Taylor McCreedy added eight.
But the night belonged to Rasmussen, and she had plenty of good things to say about her teammates.
“Jada’s been stepping up and had a couple of great games lately and she’s going to continue, I know,” she said. “And Tessa had a really great game tonight and she’s going to keep it going. This was her night.
“Lauren, Taylor and Maycie (Waters) they’re really great shooters and everyone on the bench, especially Aspen Niklasen,” Rasmussen continued. “She’s the one that really pushes me in practice. When we run defense, she’s the one that guards me and she really makes me better.”
The night ended with a split for Atlantic, with the boys’ game not going as well as coach Jeff Ebling or his team would have hoped.
A much-improved Clarinda team leaned on the efforts of Grant Jobe, Wyatt Schmitt and Michael Shull, who combined for 42 of their team’s points in a 56-44 win over the Trojans.
The Trojans built a seven-point lead midway through the first period, going ahead 13-6 on Grant Sturm’s three-point shot. But the Cardinals clawed away quickly, getting a three-pointer from Schmitt and a bucket by Jobe to cut the lead to 13-11 at the quarter break.
The Trojans and Cardinals traded the lead a couple of times early in the second period before the visitors took the lead for good, slowly extending the lead, first to three at halftime (24-21) and six after three periods of play (38-32).
The Cardinals held an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter and answered a Trojan rally with a game-ending run to seal the outcome.
It was Clarinda’s physicality, and Atlantic’s inability to close out shots when they needed them, that led to the outcome.
“Clarinda had a lot to do with that,” said Ebling. “They were efficient, especially on the offensive end and we had some chances on the inside. We couldn’t get the shots to fall.
“If you look at it, Clarinda got a lot of easy baskets around the rim and we weren’t very good protecting the rim. When you’re as deliberate as they were ... their record might be 7-5 right now, but that’s not a 7-5 team.”
The Trojans were led by Skyler Handlos’ 16 and Dayton Templeton’s 13. Jobe was tops for the Cardinals with 18 points, including some clutch free throws.
The Trojans welcome Harlan on Friday in a boy-girl doubleheader.