Katelyn Pickunka scores 31 points to join Hampshire Regional’s 1000-point club

  • Hampshire Regional’s Katelyn Pickunka, center, goes up for a shot under pressure from Ludlow, Friday. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hampshire Regional's Katelyn Pickunka, center, celebrates with her teammates after reaching her 1,000 point milestone Jan. 26, 2018 during a girls basketball game at Ludlow High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hampshire Regional's Katelyn Pickunka hugs assistant coach Steve Moussette after reaching her 1,000 point milestone Jan. 26, 2018 during a girls basketball game at Ludlow High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hampshire Regional's Katelyn Pickunka goes up for a shot under pressure from Ludlow's Kayla McKay Jan. 26, 2018 during a girls basketball game at Ludlow High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hampshire Regional junior varsity girls basketball players count down the number of points until varsity player Katelyn Pickunka reaches her 1,000 point milestone Jan. 26, 2018 during a girls basketball game at Ludlow High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hampshire Regional's Katelyn Pickunka, center, drives the ball past Ludlow's Kayla McKay Jan. 26, 2018 during a girls basketball game at Ludlow High School. Hampshire Regional's Maddie Pond looks on, at back left. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hampshire Regional's Katelyn Pickunka, left, tries to get a shot past Ludlow's Sadie Goncalves Jan. 26, 2018 during a girls basketball game at Ludlow High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hampshire Regional's Katelyn Pickunka, left, drives the ball past Ludlow's Arayah Remillard Jan. 26, 2018 during a girls basketball game at Ludlow High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hampshire Regional's Katelyn Pickunka, center, controls the ball under pressure from Ludlow defense including Hannah Albright, front left, Mary Jordan and Danielle Collins Jan. 26, 2018 during a girls basketball game at Ludlow High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hampshire Regional junior varsity girls basketball players hang posters celebrating varsity player Katelyn Pickunka reaching her 1,000 point milestone Jan. 26, 2018 during a girls basketball game at Ludlow High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hampshire Regional's Katelyn Pickunka, center, celebrates with her teammates after reaching her 1,000 point milestone Jan. 26, 2018 during a girls basketball game at Ludlow High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hampshire Regional's Katelyn Pickunka stands with head coach Amy Cyr for a photo after Pickunka reached her 1,000 point milestone Jan. 26, 2018 during a girls basketball game at Ludlow High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hampshire Regional's Katelyn Pickunka, center, stands for a photo with her mother Marilyn, brother Jordan and father Tom, all of Westhampton, after Pickunka reached her 1,000 point milestone Jan. 26, 2018 during a girls basketball game at Ludlow High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

For the Gazette
Published: 1/26/2018 10:45:11 PM

LUDLOW — When Katelyn Pickunka was in eighth-grade health class, her teacher asked her to write down three goals she wanted to reach by the time she graduated.

“One of my goals was to score 1,000 points,” Pickunka said.

Five years later, Pickunka achieved that goal. She scored 31 points Friday night and reached that coveted milestone during Hampshire Regional’s 62-23 triumph over Ludlow.

Pickunka battled through double and triple teams throughout the first half, but poured in 21 points to come within 10 of the mark at halftime. Anticipating the upcoming celebration, the Raiders junior varsity team lined up behind the basket hiding signs they had helped the varsity members make.

Pickunka sank a pair of free throws late in the third quarter to come within the cusp of reaching 1,000 points. Following a turnover, she was fouled once again giving her the chance to make history with 50 seconds remaining in the third.

With ice water in her veins, Pickunka ignored the cheers of the Raider faithful, who anticipated the moment was at hand. She calmly connected on both free throws before the Smith College-bound senior was finally able to exhale a sigh of relief.

“I have such great teammates and they got me the ball,” she said. “They kept encouraging me.”

The JV players unveiled the signs they had kept hidden. Pickunka was mobbed by her teammates, brought to center court to receive a bouquet of flowers from her thrilled parents and given a large sign proclaiming her as Hampshire Regional’s latest in a long line of 1,000-point scorers.

“I told her that was probably one of the most difficult games of her life,” Hampshire coach Amy Cyr said. “They (Ludlow) made it a difficult 31. But she persevered because she has mental toughness.”

Which is not lost on Hampshire’s players.

“We knew she was going to hit it and we made the signs right before game time,” freshman JV player Jocelyn Salomao said. “She means a lot of us — I’ve never seen her down on any of her teammates. She’s very supportive.”

Pickunka became Hampshire’s first 1,000-point scorer since both Katy O’Connor and Chelsea Moussette reached that mark nearly two years ago.

“She didn’t know how close she was at the half and we looked at her and said 10, then she said ‘OK,’” Cyr said. “She was pretty exhausted.”

Hampshire was tenacious on defense, forcing turnovers and blocking shots. The Raiders (13-1) held the Lions (1-12) to no points in the second quarter as they closed out the half on a 35-7 run to take a commanding 45-10 lead. Ludlow only produced two points during the third quarter.

“We’re extremely happy for Katelyn,” teammate Katherine Taylor said. “She’s everything to this team and we all love her so much.”

Ludlow didn’t want Pickunka to reach the milestone in its gym and did what it could to stop her. The Lions managed to hold her to six first-quarter points.

Pickunka even missed a pair of free throws during the first quarter. But teammate Caroline O’Connor helped her get back on track.

“After I missed those two free throws she just told me to keep knocking them down,” said Pickunka, who finished with nine field goals and 13 free throws. “After I hit that next foul shot I said ‘OK, I’ve got this.’”

The Raiders look up to their senior captain.

“She is our leader by action, a role model and a scholar,” Cyr said. “She brings energy.”

The Raiders know how to feed off that energy. They were able to use their quickness to bottle up Ludlow.

Cyr was her junior varsity coach when Pickunka was in seventh grade.

“She worked so hard at her game and back then, I knew she had potential,” Cyr said. “She’s one of the most skilled players around the rim I’ve ever coached.”

Maddie Pond finished with 12 points for Hampshire and O’Connor had nine.


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