CORTLAND - Ali Gagne easily masked any nervousness she felt behind her smile and upbeat personality.
On the court, it was a different story as the Lakeview senior sought to be the third female basketball player to eclipse the coveted 1,000-point mark for her career.
She was 13 points away from 1,000 entering Thursday's game against Liberty.
Interviews with Lakeview coach and Ali Gagne.
"I was extremely nervous because I knew it was that close," Gagne said.
With 2 minutes, 2 seconds left in the second quarter, Gagne made the first of two free throws. Lakeview coach Adam Lewis called timeout and a brief ceremony took place to honor Gagne's accomplishment during the Bulldogs' 71-43 victory Thursday at Lakeview High School. Gagne will be honored before the Jefferson at Lakeview varsity boys game on Feb. 3.
"It was a relief to finally hit it," said Gagne, who had a game-high 24 points and added 10 rebounds. "It was something I set for a goal for myself. I was extremely relieved to get there. I couldn't have done it without my teammates. We won because of the girls in that locker room. They are incredible teammates and they were getting the ball to me. They were so excited for me."
Tribune Chronicle / Dave Dermer
Lakeview senior Ali Gagne smiles Thursday during a ceremony on the court after she made a foul shot to reach 1,000 points for her high school career. Gagne had 24 points and 10 rebounds in the Bulldogs’ 71-43 victory over Liberty.
Gagne was sitting at 998 points after she grabbed a pass under the basket and laid it in with less than 3 minutes before halftime.
Then, she made the first of two free throws with 2:40 before intermission, but missed the second - sitting at 999 points.
Fifteen seconds later, she missed two free throws.
Then, with 2:02 left, Gagne achieved the milestone.
"I'm really proud of her. She comes out every night ready to play like that," Lakeview coach Adam Lewis said. "As far as the free throws go, I think she wanted a little drama - wanted to build it up a little bit. We're very proud of her. She did a great job tonight."
Lakeview (11-3, 7-0 All-American Conference, National Division) built a 42-16 lead at the break and held Liberty senior guard Vakelya Merriweather to three points. She eventually scored 20 in the second half to lead the Leopards (5-10, 2-5) with 23. Merriweather and Gagne both average more than 20 points a game.
"That was the key," Liberty coach Ron DeJulio said. "They did a very good job of taking Vakelya out of the game early. Not until the second half did we figure out what we were doing and we made some adjustments."
DeJulio was pleased how his team responded after halftime - especially after the hoopla of Gagne's 1,000th point was over.
"Our girls were kind of relieved after she did that," DeJulio said. "They said, 'Thank goodness after it's over.' They settled down after that."
As for Gagne, she's relieved that her teammates are such an asset. Thursday, Lakeview had 15 assists.
"In my opinion, an assist is as good as getting a point yourself," Gagne said. "We're a very unselfish team. I think people realize when to step up and take it. Then, we realize when someone has a better shot than we do."
Rebecca Mansell and Lizzy Konitsney each had 12 points for Lakeview, while Jamie Sentner added 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Monday, Lakeview travels to Austintown Fitch, while Liberty goes to Champion.