Maybe a first: Liberty’s Leshnack scores 1,000th point

Liberty girls basketball coach Ron DeJulio called up some old friends to try and find out how many females have scored 1,000 points in the school’s history.

He came up empty.

“We’ve been trying to find out,” said DeJulio about his coaching staff attempting to discover if any girl has scored 1,000 points at Liberty. “We don’t know. I called (former Liberty standout) Lori Johnson because she used to coach here, and she couldn’t remember anybody, so I’m not sure.”

One thing is for sure, there’s at least one.

The Leopards’ Leah Leshnack reached the milestone on Thursday in the fourth quarter against Hubbard. The senior guard needed 24 points to accomplish the feat, and she scored 25.

Leshnack said it was exciting to earn such an accomplishment, and she was relieved she could now focus on other things, like the postseason, but the landmark was never an objective.

“I never even thought about it,” she said. “My goal was never to go out there and try to score 1,000 points. My goal was to go out there and score points and play defense to help my team win.”

That mindset is why she also called scoring 1,000 “bittersweet” because it came in a 57-52 loss to the Eagles. Leshnack helped Liberty recover from an eight-point deficit to tie the game, but Hubbard pulled away in the final minutes.

DeJulio said the defeat doesn’t take away from a moment he nor Leshnack won’t soon forget.

“She was in tears,” said DeJulio of Leshnack’s reaction after she hit a free throw late in the fourth quarter, which put her career total at 1,000. “It was pretty special.”

Reaching the century mark wasn’t exactly a surprise. Leshnack is a two-time, first-team selection in the All-American Conference, National Division. She was the team MVP last season and leads the Leopards in scoring with 20.6 points per game this year. Yet, that’s not the stat DeJulio wanted to discuss.

“The thing is, she’s our leading scorer, but she leads us in assists also, which I think is a tribute to her team play,” he said. “Whatever you ask her to do, she does. She’s worked hard for everything. She deserves this.”

Leshnack said she only recently realized how close she was to scoring 1,000. She admitted to becoming nervous when she found out she was closing in on the mark, but she did what she could to remove the thought from her mind.

“I knew I needed 24 (points to reach 1,000), but I wasn’t trying to push it to get it,” she said. “My first goal was to win, which we didn’t end up doing. But I did accomplish that, so that’s something. But it’s a tough loss – very bittersweet.”

Hubbard’s Melissa Thomas, Michelle Peachock and Logan Nitsche combined to score 43 of the Eagles’ points. Thomas led Hubbard with 17, while Peachock and Nitsche added 13 apiece.

Marcy Dykes added 13 for the Leopards.