CHAMPION - Mackenzie Kiser, who was four years old at the time, started her basketball career as a ball girl for her father when Chad Kiser took over the LaBrae boys basketball program.
During that time, she would go to practices and shoot, and eventually that led to her spending her free time over the summer shooting in the driveway.
Over a 14-year span, that work paid off.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Champion’s Mackenzie Kiser was presented a special game ball after scoring her 1,000th point on Thursday.
The senior center recorded her 1,000th career point in the Golden Flashes' 61-22 win over Campbell on Thursday night, with her dad watching in the stands.
"She's been around the game since I started coaching at LaBrae 14 years ago," Chad Kiser said. "I'm extremely proud of her. She plays hard, she works hard. I try to tell my kids, too - if you work hard and keep going at it, good things happen."
Needing eight points going into the game, Mackenzie wasted little time reaching the milestone.
By the 4:21 mark in the first quarter, Kiser recorded her sixth point of the night, and with 2:34 remaining in the quarter, she stepped up to the charity stripe with a chance to record her 1,000th point.
Kiser hit the first one, and after a Campbell timeout, she drained the second. During an official timeout following the free throw, she received a ball with the accomplishment and the date painted on it in pink.
Along with the ball, the fans gave her a standing ovation, and her teammates and coaches gave her hugs. Even the five players on the floor for Campbell congratulated her and gave her a hug before play resumed.
"It was a relief to get it off my shoulders and know that I accomplished that goal," Kiser said. "I was so close, and I just wanted to get it over with."
For her coach Jeff Thompson, he's coached now three girls who scored over 1,000 points.
As Bristol coach in 1994, he saw Allison Beach break the 1,000-point plateau, and in 2007, he coached Champion's Elizabeth Ghinda when she broke that mark.
Thompson said that Kiser earned every point she's scored over her four-year career at Champion.
"You just look at all that she has overcome and the player she has become through the years - you have to be proud of her," Thompson said. "She's also inspirational in how hard she's worked over the four years. This just doesn't happen. She's earned everything that she's got."
Kiser, though, credits her teammates with her success and with getting her 1,000th point so early in the game, as they kept feeding her the ball.
"I couldn't do it without my teammates," Kiser said. "We all moved the ball, they were trying their best to get me the passes to score... We work together here to get the win."
In terms of the game, the Red Devils (0-14, 0-7 All-American Conference, National Division) stayed close until halfway through the second quarter, but the Golden Flashes (9-7, 5-2) took control after that, taking a 13-point lead into halfway.
Champion took its game to another level in the second half, with Gabby Lamont returning to the game following an injury.
The senior guard sat out a quarter before returning, and the offense clicked. She recorded four of her game-high six assists from halfway through the third quarter to halfway through the fourth quarter.
Thompson said that the team will be successful based on the inside-out game of Kiser and Lamont.
"For us to win going forward into the tournament, the ball has got to go through Mackenzie and Gabby," Thompson said. "Gabby's another kid that's really worked hard this summer to improve her game."
Champion returns to action Saturday at Canfield, while Campbell travels to Liberty on Monday.