Girls basketball: 1,602 reasons to cheer as Wascher sets scoring record

One would have thought Hannah Wascher might break the Rantoul Township High School girls basketball program’s all-time scoring record on an offensive rebound putback.

Or a free throw.

Or a post move inside.

But a coast-to-coast layup? Even the Eagles senior forward didn’t foresee that outcome.

“I never thought that would happen,” Wascher said with a laugh after she eclipsed 1998 RTHS graduate Yolanda Smith’s career scoring record by making a layup with 22.6 seconds left in the third quarter of Monday night’s 61-54 home loss to Corn Belt Conference rival Mahomet-Seymour. “I thought I’d get out of control or something because my ball handling skills aren’t really that great, but I was just going to plow over anybody that got in my way. I got there, and had to slow myself down. I was just thinking, ‘OK, this better go in.’ I can’t even think of words to describe it other than it was a really good feeling.”

Wascher ended up with a team-high 25 points on Monday to go along with 19 rebounds.

She now has 1,602 career points for the Eagles (6-13, 1-6 Corn Belt) before they host Stanford Olympia at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Wascher tied Smith’s mark of 1,596 with 1:38 left in the third quarter when she made the first of two free throw attempts to put RTHS up 38-37, but her second attempt missed long.

“I was so shaky when I made my first free throw,” Wascher said. “I got a little nervous after that.”

The record-breaking basket came after Wascher’s younger sister, sophomore forward Logan Wascher, deflected a Mahomet-Seymour pass. Her big sister picked the ball up near the Bulldogs’ 3-point line, and with no one in front of her, took off on the dribble.

“I was just playing defense,” Logan Wascher said. “I didn’t really know that would help her get the basket for the record, but I’m glad it was since we’re sisters and all. I kind of like it because I got the (steal) that helped her get the record.”

A brief stoppage in play ensued after Wascher broke the record, which gave the Eagles a 44-39 lead at the time. Wascher now has had six straight games with 20 points or more, and in the Eagles’ 19 games this season, she has eclipsed that mark 13 times.

“I used to (stink) at basketball,” Wascher said before her junior season began. “I’m not even going to lie. My eighth-grade year, I grew a lot and I grew into my body.”

She’s now grown into a player future Eagles will try to surpass on the all-time scoring chart. With eight regular season games left before Rantoul hosts a Class 3A regional, Wascher could reach 1,800 career points if she continues to average 23.5 points like she has this season.

Wascher had 14 points and 10 rebounds in the first half, helped out by an 8-of-12 effort at the free throw line. She didn’t score her first field goal until 2 minutes, 26 seconds remained in the first half, bulling her way to the basket while defended by two Mahomet-Seymour players.

“When we were at halftime, I had (senior forward Kimmy Schwartz) come up to me and say, ‘This is all you need,’” Hannah Wascher said. “It means quite a bit to me. I just feel so good that all my hard work has paid off, from reaching 1,000 points to now breaking this record, but I couldn’t do it without all my teammates and all their assists.”

But after she broke the record, Mahomet-Seymour (11-8, 3-4) took control of the game.

The Bulldogs went on an 11-0 run during the next four minutes, and took advantage at the free throw line.

The Bulldogs were 27-of-34 (79 percent) at the foul line, including 22-of-27 in the second half.

Junior guard Maggie Schmidt was a driving force for the Bulldogs with 26 points that included a 14-for-18 showing at the foul line.

Bulldogs head coach Nathan Seal had high praise for Wascher.

“That’s a great honor for her,” he said. “We just focused on if she gets her points, she gets her points. We had to stay focused on our gameplan. She’s a great player. It’s hard to limit her.”

RTHS head coach Jeff McKaufsky called the night “bittersweet,” for the Eagles, who received 14 points from senior guard Diamond Walker and six points from sophomore guard Rachel Mullen off the bench.

“That’s the word I used in the locker room,” he said. “You’re happy for Hannah with what she accomplished, but (we’re) very, very upset about the loss, and everyone in the locker room felt the same way.”

Notes: RTHS opened the new year with a 71-43 loss at Bloomington Central Catholic last Thursday. Hannah Wascher had 21 points while Schwartz added six points. RTHS trailed 20-5 at the end of the first quarter, 37-14 at halftime and 53-28 at the start of the fourth quarter.

— After Thursday’s game against Olympia, the Eagles will play at 7:30 p.m. next Monday at Pontiac.
mdaniels@rantoulpress.com

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