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Sheboygan, Wis. - Lakeland College senior Kristi Thill (Garden, Mich./Big Bay de Noc) became the eighth women's basketball player in the program's history to reach 1,000 career points.
"It was never in my head," said Thill. "I have just been focusing on our conference games and taking each game one at a time."
Entering the Lake Michigan Conference contest against Marian on Wednesday evening, Thill needed 22 points to reach the 1,000 mark. With 26 seconds remaining in the game, Thill went to the free throw line just two points short of the milestone. With the gym falling silent and head coach April Arvan visibly nervous, Thill sank both shots giving her the needed 22 points to hit 1,000.
"I had no idea," said Thill, a fifth-year senior who went down with a season-ending ACL tear in the Muskies' seventh game last season. "I was wondering - (teammate) Brenda (Paulson) was so buddy-buddy to me and hugging me after that second shot. I'm like 'What's going on?' Then I noticed everyone coming at me and I knew I must have got it."
The officials stopped the game, and Arvan presented Thill with the game ball.
"Honestly, I was so nervous," said Arvan. "I was in-between crying and just thinking about her coming back for her super senior year. I was nervous thinking 'What if she misses' even though I knew she wouldn't. It was just a whole bunch of emotions just knowing her through the course of the last four and a half years."
Thill took the ball and ran into the stands and immediately handed the ball to her dad. A few seconds later she was back on the court and the game resumed. Four seconds later, the Muskies fouled and Thill left the game to a standing ovation.
"It feels good to see that the support never left in my coaches, parents and fans," said Thill about bouncing back from the knee injury. "It was good to see that they continued to support and believe in me."
Former Muskie Renee Steinert, who finished her eligibility last season, was the last Lakeland player to reach 1,000 points, achieving the milestone last year against Maranatha Baptist on Jan. 18, 2005. Exactly a year later, Steinert was in attendance to see Thill reach 1,000. The all-time leading scorer for Lakeland is Jill Dewane (1998-02) who scored 2,154 points in her Lakeland career.
The following players have scored 1,000 points for Lakeland's women's basketball program:
2,154 Jill Dewane 1998-02
1,948 Stacy Urbas 1985-89
1,477 Dawn Wendegatz (1987-91)
1,340 Hulya Erden (1997-01)
1,221 Meredith Wilmet (1996-00)
1,145 Renee Steinert (2002-04)
1,108 Steph Sprenger (1993-96)
1,000 Kristi Thill (2001-present)