Shooters shoot: Hoosac Valley's Lexi Mercier reaches 1,000-point mark in loss to Pittsfield
CHESHIRE — When the ball finally settled into the bottom of the net on Thursday night, Hoosac Valley senior Lexi Mercier turned to her classmate Alie Mendel for a hug.
After all, it's not every day that you can score your 1,000th career point in the same season as your best friend.
A month and a half after Mendel reached the scoring milestone, Mercier etched her name into Hurricane lore by taking a pass from Shaleigh Levesque off a steal, and finishing at the rim for points Nos. 1,000 and 1,001 in her illustrious career.
"It feels great," Mercier said with a smile, despite coming off a 67-56 loss to Pittsfield. "The stress of it was insane. I didn't even think you could ever feel that pressure to get anything. I'm just so thankful I got it over with."
For any athlete, the journey from the first point to the 1,000th is long. But for Mercier, her journey took some late detours, thanks to postponements by the snow and the defensive focus of the teams she faced.
In a perfect world, Mercier would have scored her milestone basket about two weeks ago.
"Oh yeah, definitely," Mercier said when asked if the milestone was weighing on her. "Every day I tried not to think about it, but everyone was like 'you only need this many points.'
"I tried to put it in the back of my mind, and focus on the game."
Mercier entered the night 13 points away, and started out strong by canning a 3-pointer. Mercier finished the first half with eight points.
She opened the second half with a deep triple to get within two points. Her first shot at cracking the mark came when she drew a foul on a 3-pointer. Mercier, though, missed two of the three shots. After the misses, it took until the fourth quarter before Mercier finally cracked the code.
The play came on a press. Levesque recorded the steal, then skipped the ball to Mercier. Mercier collected herself, then went up.
"I knew it was my chance," Mercier said. "I knew I was going to get it right there. [Levesque] got the ball, got the bobble, and I was like 'this is it right here.'"
The horn sounded on the bucket, and Mercier immediately went for Mendel. The pair have been through a lot over the last year or so, and Mercier was grateful that her best friend was right there to celebrate.
"That's insane," Mercier said. "Freshman year, we said 'watch us get this, that'd be crazy.' We were like 'were going to do it,' we planned on it, and it's just incredible to give her the first hug after I got it."
Mendel, meanwhile, said that "It was definitely a great feeling, seeing that we're best friends and both put in so much work in the off season."
On the sideline, Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik got to experience a rare first for a veteran coach — having two players score 1,000 career points in the same class.
"Yeah, that's pretty cool," Wojcik said. "I think it's pretty cool, and certainly is a testament to two very good players."
The coach said that Mercier is one of the best shooters he's ever coached.
"She has tremendous range on her stroke, which is amazing," Wojcik said. "She can shoot the ball from anywhere."
With the milestone out of the way, the Hurricanes will now turn their sights to another Western Mass. Division III tournament run. Along the way, Mercier will certainly add to her career point total, and do it alongside another 1,000-point scorer.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.