HANFORD — With 5:13 left in the first quarter, Kalea Bush made history.
The Sierra Pacific power forward and center put in a layup, which made her the first Sierra Pacific player to score 1,000 career points in boys or girls basketball.
“That’s, like, one of my biggest milestones and I’m happy I got to make it on my home court with my team,” Bush said.
The crowd erupted into a deafening roar, the entire team cheered for her and balloons spelling out “1,000” were brought out. Everyone in the building understood the moment on Thursday night.
“To me, it feels like I was following in my mom’s footsteps because she got her 1,000 ball too in high school,” Bush said. “I can tell just by looking at her, she was happy and excited for me.”
Bush’s mom happens to be her coach as well, Sierra Pacific coach Amy Bush.
“To have one of my girls make it to 1,000 points is really cool,” Amy said. “But again, it’s always about who’s passing the ball. The thousand points, she didn’t just come out on the court and score 1,000 points. You have all these other girls who pass the ball, which is amazing.”
Amy said it’s hard to take a step back as a mom because, “when I step on the court I’m coach.” But she said she was incredibly proud of Bush’s accomplishment.
After the first quarter, Bush was honored with a plaque and a basketball that read “1,000.” Friends and family held up their signs and applauded the big moment.
“I think it’s just crazy to me,” Bush said about becoming the first 1,000-point scorer. “Being the first person in our school history, especially with how young our school is, I feel like in the next couple years, hopefully, we’ll have more either boys or girls score 1,000.”
Teammate Haley Bettencourt had a front row seat to the crowning achievement and was on the floor when Bush scored.
“Me and Kalea have known each other since we were in third grade, so I’m totally proud of her,” Bettencourt said. “It’s a great thing. We’ve all been playing together for a really long time so it’s fun.”
Bush’s layup actually put the Golden Bears up 12-2 and gave them their first double-digit lead of the night, in what would be a 57-31 blowout of second-place Strathmore.
Sierra Pacific (21-4, 7-0 WYL) came out at a sweltering pace on offense with an 8-0 run and then a 13-0 run.
Strathmore coach Richard Miranda was forced to call two timeouts in the first five minutes as the Spartans quickly fell into a big hole. There was no stopping the Golden Bears on Thursday night as they led 21-2 after the first quarter.
The Spartans (16-10, 5-2 WYL) looked to pick up the slack by starting the second on a 6-0 run. It took the Golden Bears 2:25 to score a bucket with Bettencourt breaking the run with a 3-pointer off the left wing.
With that shot, Sierra Pacific went right back to scoring and ended the half on a 16-4 run. The Golden Bears led 37-12 at halftime.
It was a big reversal from when they trailed 22-20 the first time the two teams met on Jan. 16. That game was also the closest league victory (12 points) for Sierra Pacific all season long.
Bettencourt attributed the quick start to the defensive energy from the tip-off.
“This time we tightened up on our press so we could get more steals and that led to us scoring and the bigger lead,” Bettencourt said. “We’ve been working on our press just for this game.”
The team fed off of each other when it came to defense and garnering steals. They turned those into uncontested layups and only allowed three buckets in the first half.
The third-quarter defense was just as impressive as the first as they limited the Spartans to four points. The Golden Bears led 46-16 entering the fourth quarter.
Sierra Pacific was outscored 15-11 in the fourth, but it made little difference in the Golden Bears victory.
The sweep was a big deal for Sierra Pacific as Strathmore was the only team to beat them last year and the two ended the season as co-East Sequoia League champions. This season they’ll have a chance to keep it all to themselves.
Celeste Lewis led all scorers with 13 points, Alana Roberts added 12 points and Bettencourt had nine points.
Bush finished with six points on the night and now stands at 1,002 points. Her career breakdown is 222 as a freshman, 290 as a sophomore, 264 as a junior and 226 (and counting) during her senior campaign.
On the one thing Bush will take away from her big night?
“Teamwork,” Bush said without hesitation. “That’s the one thing. I wouldn’t be able to reach this milestone without my team.”
Sierra Pacific has four days off before another home game next Wednesday against Granite Hills (10-12, 3-3 ESL). The Grizzlies are currently in fourth place in league.
The two teams previously met on Jan. 18 where Sierra Pacific won 61-31.