MACKINAW CITY — Madison Smith knew it was coming at some point.
After all the years spent in the gym — and thousands of shots put up — the Mackinaw City junior basketball star had her moment on Thursday night.
With about two minutes left in the first half, Smith earned herself a milestone, reaching 1,000 career points with a made layup in what ended up being a 91-19 Lady Comets victory over Ellsworth.
"It was very exciting, I've been waiting for that my whole basketball career," said Smith, who finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and one block. "It was very relieving to get it off my back, and then I could just play the rest of the game knowing that I have that 1,000 points now."
Once Smith reached the milestone, she was presented with a 1,000 points poster by Mackinaw City athletic director Elijah May, while also receiving a loud ovation from teammates, coaches, students, parents and others in attendance.
On the more emotional side of things, Smith attempted to hold back tears as she and her mother, Abbey, hugged at half court during the presentation.
"It was very emotional," Smith said. "I tried (not to cry), but it's every exciting. I’m very excited, I’m glad I can be a part of it."
For someone who's coached her for three seasons now, Mackinaw City coach Jake Huffman said Smith reaching 1,000 was the culmination of a great ethic she's had since her earlier playing days.
"It's pretty awesome," said Huffman. "Madison's been playing hard ever since her eighth grade year, she puts a lot of time and effort in, and this is one of the things that's very important to her. We talked about it at halftime, that it's a great individual accomplishment for her, but it also represents how well we play as a team offensively, and how well we do at finding the right shots and getting the right looks so we can go out and run an efficient offense."
Smith's memorable evening highlighted another dominating performance by the Lady Comets (14-1, 10-0 Northern Lakes Conference), who jumped on the Lancers early with a 10-0 run just 1:25 into the contest. By the end of one, the Comets were in total command with a 36-2 lead.
"I told the girls that we still need to go out and play our style, we need to do what we do so we'll be ready for that next game, which will be more of a challenge," Huffman said. "(The players) do a really good job of maintaining that focus. When we come out in those first quarters, we really want to get out and get after it the way we want to play ball. The girls work hard. At the same time, I told the girls they're great sports because when we back it off a little bit, they do a nice job of playing good, sound basketball, but also trying to balance opportunities with the teams they're playing."
When she wasn't scoring, Smith was getting her teammates involved with crisp passing, while also providing tough defense on the other end of the court.
"I'd much rather have everyone else score," Smith said. "Tonight we were trying to get everyone else into double digits, and so once I hit my 1,000, I just kept passing to everyone so we could all do that."
Joining Smith in double figures was junior guard Marlie Postula, who finished with a game-high 21 points to go along with six rebounds, five steals and four assists, as well as senior guard Raeann Hingston, who tallied 19 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists. Gracie Beauchamp (15 points, nine assists, six rebounds, one steal), Larissa Huffman (14 points, seven rebounds, five steals, four assists, two blocks) and Olivia Lidy (four points, one rebounds) also helped out in the Mackinaw City triumph.
"That's the best thing about this group that I keep telling everybody — they're such a pleasure to coach because they're an unselfish group from top to bottom," Huffman said. "Every girl understands what a good shot is and what a right shot is, and they're very unselfish. It was a great night because not only did (Smith) get her 1,000th point, she probably had four or five assists tonight, she works hard on defense and rebounds, and that goes for every one of these girls, is that they work so hard.
"It's such a wonderful team to coach because you never know who's going to come out and put a bunch up on any given night."
Mackinaw City hosts Burt Lake Northern Michigan Christian Academy on Monday, Feb. 7.
This article originally appeared on Cheboygan Daily Tribune: Smith reaches 1,000 career points in Mackinaw City win over Ellsworth