Tasha Baker and Linda Parker: Those are the names you won’t hear when mentioning Brandy Cruthird’s 61 points in a game — a state record for girls’ high school basketball, set 27 years ago.
But Cruthird refuses to let anyone believe that she would’ve dominated the post as much as she did that night for Burke High without those two guards feeding her the ball.
“I needed them, they believed in me and they sent me the ball,” Cruthird said. “I have to salute not just those two, but everyone on the court that day.
“It was my teammates who threw me the ball. It felt like this accomplishment wasn’t just about me, but it was a team thing.”
Ali Ruxin, Meredith Bernstein, Caroline Florenza, and Daleia Boutwell: Those are the names you didn’t hear much about when Lexington guard Anna Kelly scored 52 points in a 76-59 win at Belmont on Tuesday.
But Kelly insists she would not have been successful on the offensive end if it weren’t for her teammates.
“My teammates really got me the ball a lot. I was having a pretty OK season and most of that comes from my teammates getting the ball to me,” Kelly said.
While the numbers on the box score only appear near an individual player’s name, scoring does not happen without the help of the other players on the court. Basketball is a team game and for great scorers like Cruthird and Kelly, their names wouldn’t be carved in the record books if it weren’t for the contribution of their teammates.
In the 1985-86 season, when Cruthird set the record, she didn’t know she had etched her name in the record books.
“No, I didn’t know I scored 61 points, but one thing I did know was that I didn’t score those alone,’’ she said. “There were four other people on the court who gave me the ball, who helped me. It was a team effort, so those numbers aren’t celebrated alone.
“That night was magical, but that night wasn’t just me. It was me and four other people.”
And 27 years later, the record still stands.
“It makes me feel good that I’ve created a tangible legacy,” Cruthird said. “To see my niece [Araion Bradshaw] play basketball, I went to her game last week. She’s phenomenal. To watch my niece play, and to know that 20 years ago, I was that same girl, its admirable and I’m truly humbled.”
Does Cruthird want to see her record beaten?
“Yeah, because once someone beats it they can tell their story. All records are meant to be broken,” Cruthird said. “Anyone who really respects the game, they want someone to be better than them, they want someone to be greater than them. And it’s not like you’re taking my place, it means that there is someone out there who aspires to be great.”
For Kelly, getting her name in the record books as Lexington high’s single-game scoring leader or in third place in the state behind Cruthird’s 61 and Robin Christian’s 59 points at Jamaica Plain, was “pretty cool.” But for the 16-year-old, basketball is much more than scoring — it is about the intangibles that don’t show up in the box score.
“Basketball is so much more than scoring points. If you’re working hard, the points will always come eventually, but its about exemplifying all of the intangible qualities that every player should have, like being the consistent hard worker, being coachable, and overcoming and helping your teammates overcome, the adversity associated with being on a team.”
Like Cruthird, Kelly wasn’t aware that she scored 52 points, until her coach acknowledged her in front of her teammates in the locker room.
“I didn’t really know at first, my coach told me afterward, so I had no idea how many points I had. I thought I scored maybe around 30. It feels really good but I think I’m just more happy with the win than my points.”
But Kelly deflected praise to her teammates, who amped up their defense in order to force turnovers, something the Minutemen try to do in order for them to score on the break, since they struggle to score.
Kelly enjoys being the underdog and unknown because it pushes her to work harder to prove that she is one of the best players in the state. This season, the sophomore guard isn’t an underdog, and after scoring 52 points, her name is known throughout the state. She leads the state with 26 points per game, but Lexington coach Steven Solly emphasized that though she is able to put the ball in the basket so well, her greatest skill is not scoring.
“She’s such a good defender, everyone gets wrapped up in the points,’’ Solly said. “Our whole message, what we are preaching to these kids is the offensive points will come as a team, but its our defense is what fuels our offense.”