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Younger Harkins also reaches 1,000 points for Rams

Special to Tribune Chronicle Mineral Ridge junior Alexa Harkins recently reached the 1,000-point mark for her career.

The latest to reach the Mineral Ridge basketball 1,000-point club is a name familiar to Rams fans.

Junior Alexa Harkins is now one of five players to hit the 1,000-point mark for the Mineral Ridge girls program, almost four years to the day from when her sister, Alyssa, hit the mark in 2015.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Harkins said.

The milestone couldn’t have come at a better time. In the game against Jackson-Milton, the two teams were in a heated back-and-forth battle.

“If we were going to win that game, she was going to have to break it that night,” Rams coach Matt Cluse said. “We knew that going in. She’s probably going to have to put up a lot of points to beat that team and we put up 51 in that game. Jackson-Milton doesn’t give up 51 points.”

Harkins scoring her 1,000th point was the catalyst that sparked the Rams’ 51-49 victory over a tough Blue Jays team.

“When we got in the huddle (after Harkins hit the shot) you could see the emotions running,” Cluse said. “Some girls really understood the magnitude of how big this is. We’ve had 11 athletes in the history of Mineral Ridge that reached 1,000 points and now we have two sisters that have done it over the last three or four years.”

The timing worked out perfectly for the team. Harkins set the milestone at the free-throw line under a ton of pressure.

“It was nice because she got it at the line,” Cluse said. “She went to the line and the whole place just went silent, the banners came up and the pressure was all on her. It was nice the way it happened — it sort of gave us a chance to catch our breath and watch it happen.”

To reach 1,000 points in general is a proud accomplishment, but to do it as a junior is a feat not many scorers get to accomplish.

“It means a lot to me,” Harkins said. “I’ve put in a lot of hard work over the years to do it.”

Alyssa has been pushing her younger sister to reach the milestone ever since she reached it four years ago.

“She’s been pushing me to get it ever since she got it,” Harkins said. “She’s like ‘you can do this’ and got it in my head. She just wanted me to get it so bad.”

Harkins had the chance to work with her sister last season when Cluse brought Alyssa onto the staff as an assistant.

“She knew how I played really well so she could help me fix things,” Harkins said. “There was tension sometimes because she would yell at me and I didn’t want to hear it.

“We would always watch film together and she would tell me what I did wrong and try to fix it and she would take me outside and we would practice different moves and stuff on defense to help me get better.”

She still has a year left to decide, but Harkins is unsure about continuing her career into college.

“I think it would be so cool to play in college,” Harkins said. “I never want to stop playing basketball but I just don’t know if I’m healthy enough for it.”

Harkins was one of two players to reach the milestone this season for the Rams. Senior Jordan Zupko of the boys team also hit the milestone. Zupko is one point away from tying the school’s all-time scoring record.

Harkins finished the regular season with 1,059 points, less than 10 behind her sister’s 1,066. She is currently in fourth place all-time, but at her current pace can take the all-time leading scorer position from Amy Bundy who scored 1,311 points in her time from 1993-96.

Heading into the tournament, Harkins is confident in her team’s chances. Last season the Rams made it to a sectional bracket final where they fell to Columbiana.

“I think we have a really good shot of going far in the tournament,” Harkins said. “We just need to play together as a team and give it everything we have.”

The Rams open the tournament against Berkshire tonight. The winner will take on Newton Falls in the second round.

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