Barnegat’s Shannon McCoy Reaches 1,000-Point Mark With Record-Breaking Effort

Jan 17, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Barnegat basketball player Shannon McCoy (center) celebrates with head coach Tammy Nicolini and her family after scoring the 1,000th point of her career in a 42-point effort against Point Pleasant Borough on Jan. 11.

At the start of the school day on Jan. 11, Barnegat High School senior Shannon McCoy had it in her mind that the milestone coming up for her career still was another day away – particularly Tuesday, when the Bengals’ girls basketball team was scheduled to play Jackson Liberty.

“I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t expecting to do it today,” McCoy said after she led the Bengals past Point Pleasant Borough, 59-50. “I was thinking next week.”

But head coach Tammy Nicolini had another plan in mind. She wanted McCoy to reach the 1,000-point mark in her home gymnasium, where the home fans who have supported her the past few years would get the chance to celebrate along with her.

“Coach Nic told me today during school that she was going to let me try to get it tonight,” McCoy said. “It was supposed to be a secret, but everybody kept coming up to me in the halls, asking me about it.”

Now, even though Nicolini was going to allow McCoy enough chances to reach the milestone, that wasn’t going to be an easy task. McCoy needed 41 points. Her career high to date had been 28. And so far this season, her average was 22 per contest through eight games.

“I was a little nervous about it,” she said. “Coach Nic kept telling me to calm down every time we were at the bench.”

And reasonably so. With six points in the first quarter, McCoy was well off the pace to get near the 1,000-mark. But by halftime, the light at the end of the tunnel was brighter. McCoy buried a pair of three-point field goals during the final minutes of the half, turning in 15 second-quarter points, leaving her 20 away.

Another 10 points during the third quarter and the tension began filling the gym. Every time McCoy scored the crowd got louder, and after she dropped in a pair of free throws with 4:28 to go, as she reached 40 points for the game, the gym was electric.

As the clock ticked down past the 3:50 point, McCoy received a pass high on the left wing, dribbled by a Borough defender and down the right blocks. She tossed up a right-handed runner from about 7 feet and watched it take a pair of high bounces on the rim.

“I was thinking, ‘Please get in! Please get in!’ It was the longest moment of my life right there,” she said. “I was nervous it would bounce out.”

The ball eventually dropped through the net with 3:42 left, and her teammates stormed the court to celebrate the Bengals’ latest 1,000-point star. After a brief timeout for some photos, the Panthers cut an 18-point deficit down to nine before the final buzzer sounded. McCoy’s 42 points was not only a new career high, but also a single-game record. She also grabbed 10 rebounds and swiped five steals.

“It was special to do it on my home court in front of our crowd and all my friends and family here,” she said. “And I’m glad it was against Point Borough, because Coach Nic hadn’t beaten them since she’s been here. We got the ‘W,’ and that’s the most important thing.”

At 6-5 thus far, the Bengals still have plenty of season left, and plenty of time for McCoy to eclipse yet another milestone – Barnegat’s career scoring record, which is 1,116 points, held by Catherine Keough, who graduated in 2010.

“I’m not worried about that one right now,” McCoy said with a laugh. “That will come when it comes.”

For now, she will concentrate on leading the Bengals to more victories. This season, as one of the few seniors and a four-year starter, she’s the leader of the crew. But because Ashley Toner graduated last season, McCoy also picked up an additional court duty this season – the point guard role, which in itself adds more pressure. Still, she’s taking it all in stride and handling it very well so far.

“I knew coming into the season that I would have to work extra hard,” she said. “Trying to fill Ashley’s shoes is tough, but I’m doing my best. The biggest thing for me is to stay calm, because if I’m not calm the rest of the team won’t be. It’s definitely not easy, but I like the role.”

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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