Century club

  • Gilmore had supporters everywhere on her special day.

  • Gilmore’s Bracetti teammates mobbed her when she reached the milestone in the second quarter of Friday’s game.

  • Gilmore scored 32 of her team’s 53 points to surpass 1,000 career points.

  • Welcome to the club: Mariana Bracetti senior Keishla Gilmore became the first player in school history to score 1,000 career points last week. Here she is joined by (L-R) assistants Claude Reifsnyder and Tara Kelly and head coach John Westfield after reaching the milestone. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

Keishla Gilmore does so much for her school that she lost track of how close she was inch­ing to­ward be­com­ing Mari­ana Bracetti Academy Charter School’s first 1,000-point bas­ket­ball scorer.

Not to worry: her team­mates, coaches and class­mates made sure to com­mem­or­ate the achieve­ment, and they didn’t even wait for half­time or the post­game to do so.

With 3:27 re­main­ing in the second quarter of Bracetti’s Fri­day af­ter­noon home con­test against Delaware Val­ley Charter, a second-chance lay­up op­por­tun­ity landed in Gilmore’s hands un­der­neath the bas­ket and she did with it what she did for the 999 points that came first: she con­ver­ted. Gilmore’s 15th and 16th points of the game, which in­creased Bracetti’s lead to 21-7, set off a rauc­ous cel­eb­ra­tion on the court in the middle of the ac­tion. Spec­tat­ors ju­bil­antly launched blue and white pa­per con­fetti stream­ers in Gilmore’s dir­ec­tion while her team­mates mobbed her near mid­court. She posed for a pic­ture with the coach­ing staff, which offered her a spe­cial 1,000-point bas­ket­ball to com­mem­or­ate the oc­ca­sion; be­hind Bracetti’s bench, four sup­port­ers stood in a line hold­ing up in­di­vidu­al signs that read ‘1,000’ when placed to­geth­er. 

“I didn’t know ex­actly where I was at, so it was ex­cit­ing,” Gilmore said after Bracetti squashed a late Del-Val run to hold on for a 53-41 win. “I was sur­prised to see the stream­ers get thrown in the air and all my team­mates run­ning to­ward me with the fans scream­ing. The sup­port of the people at this school has been amaz­ing. To see them cheer me on, that cheers me up and makes me want to do good things for them.”

Mis­sion ac­com­plished. In her 48th ca­reer game for Bracetti, Gilmore sliced and diced her way to 32 of her team’s 53 points. She shot 15-for-27 from the field (0-for-2 from three-point range) and 2-for-7 at the foul line, dis­play­ing light­ning-quick speed and a knack for get­ting to the rim des­pite be­ing a nat­ur­al guard. 

Bracetti, now in its 10th year as a school, used to be loc­ated at 2501 Kens­ing­ton Ave. un­til this year, when teach­ers and stu­dents moved in­to the old North Cath­ol­ic build­ing at 1840 Tor­res­dale Ave., which Bracetti pur­chased three years ago, ac­cord­ing to head girls bas­ket­ball coach and ath­let­ic dir­ect­or John West­field.

In her al­most four years at the school, Gilmore has pretty much done it all. In ad­di­tion to be­ing an All-Pub­lic bas­ket­ball se­lec­tion for three years (and a fourth cer­tainly to come), she plays vol­ley­ball in the fall and soft­ball in the spring. Gilmore is the vice pres­id­ent of her class, as well as a straight-A stu­dent. As West­field said pri­or to Fri­day’s game, she is “the epi­tome of everything you look for in a stu­dent-ath­lete.”

“Com­ing here has been amaz­ing, be­cause every­one has con­tin­ued to get me to strive to do my best,” Gilmore said. “I have a lot of friends here, as you could see by the re­ac­tion and sup­port for me today. I love this school, and if it’s go­ing to keep giv­ing me op­por­tun­it­ies, then I’m go­ing to keep tak­ing ad­vant­age of them.”

For someone who scores the bas­ket­ball so much, it’s a nat­ur­al in­clin­a­tion to en­vi­sion Gilmore as a selfish ball­hawk. This couldn’t be fur­ther from the case. In fact, when she was still a point away from 1,000, she had a sure­fire shot to score on a 2-on-1 break. Even if Gilmore didn’t know her cur­rent tally, the noise and an­ti­cip­a­tion from the fans was palp­able every time she touched the ball. And at the very last mo­ment, with his­tory one buck­et away, what did Gilmore do?

She passed.

“When I see my team­mates open, that’s who I look for,” she said. “They might ex­pect me to drive and score all the time, but I love to give them the ball so they have the same op­por­tun­it­ies as I do. My team­mates, I love them and they love me. They’ve sup­por­ted me throughout this ride.”

This type of qual­ity in Gilmore, and not her abil­ity to score the bas­ket­ball at will, is what truly makes her spe­cial, her coach­ing staff stated.

“If she only scored two points her en­tire ca­reer, she’d still be one of my fa­vor­ite play­ers,” as­sist­ant Claude Re­if­snyder said. “She’s that great.”

Ad­ded fel­low as­sist­ant Tara Kelly: “From the day she got here, she’s been a lead­er on the court and in the classroom. She’s my go-to per­son for everything. I’m not sure if people real­ize how rare the mag­nitude of this ac­com­plish­ment is, either. It just doesn’t hap­pen of­ten at the high school level. She’s just a dia­mond in the rough. She glows in everything she does.”

Gilmore is re­mark­ably ma­ture for her age. Early in the second quarter, she took a hard foul un­der­neath the bas­ket, hit­ting her head on the floor when she came crash­ing down. Gilmore left the game briefly, but was com­pelled to re­turn quickly, and not be­cause she had a re­cord to break, mind you. 

“It was a hard fall, but I had to get back up and keep play­ing for my team­mates,” she said. “Scor­ing 1,000 points means a lot, but it doesn’t dis­tract me or stop me from play­ing my hard­est for my team. Just be­cause I got this re­cord doesn’t mean our sea­son is over. I want to keep help­ing this team win games.”

West­field, who has prob­ably spent the most 1-on-1 time with Gilmore, calls her forth­com­ing gradu­ation from the school “bit­ter­sweet.”

“It’s hard to re­place,” he said. “She’s our fourth coach on the court, as well as a coach in the school and a role mod­el in gen­er­al. Those stu­dents, nowadays they’re hard to find.”

And as she said, just be­cause Gilmore broke the 1,000-point bar­ri­er doesn’t mean she’s fin­ished. She’s got a bas­ket­ball sea­son to fin­ish strong, as well as a soft­ball sea­son to look for­ward to. As far as she’s con­cerned, go­ing full throttle all the time is the only way Gilmore knows.

“I go hard all year,” she said. “I like to stay act­ive and get in­volved with every­one, wheth­er it’s sports or be­ing vice pres­id­ent for my class. I want to know who every­one is, to be the role mod­el they need to make sure their voices are heard. I’m go­ing to be there for them as long as they need me to be.” ••

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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