Philipsburg-Osceola’s Halle Herrington sat down to a cinnamon doughnut Monday morning and dreamt about reaching a career milestone.
She lived out that dream Monday night.
Herrington scored 34 points inside a buzzing P-O gym Monday to become just the third high school basketball player in Centre County history to reach the 2,000-point milestone — something a little more than 150 total girls in Pennsylvania history have accomplished. Her Lady Mounties team didn’t win, falling 61-51 in overtime to St. Joseph’s, but warm smiles and long embraces still filled the court shortly after the final whistle.
“It means everything, honestly,” Herrington said after posing for photos with family. “Being the only person in P-O history to do it and being the third person in Centre County? I’ll take it. That’s pretty dang good.”
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Herrington entered the night with 1,983 career points — and, despite a slow start with eight straight misses, she recorded 14 points by halftime. She knew then a 3-pointer would give her the rare milestone, so the girl with the trademark white headband didn’t waste time.
Fifteen seconds into the second half, she stepped back with the ball — “As soon as I released, I’m like, that’s what I wanted,” she said — and buried a trey. A wide grin immediately spread across her face, and fans of both teams rose to their feet to offer her a standing ovation.
Officials stopped the game briefly while cheerleaders chanted “We are proud of you!” and as the school presented balloons and flowers to the 2,000-point scorer who had broken the school’s career record (1,443 points) nearly a year ago on Jan. 25, 2018.
“Me, personally, I feel like I accomplished it too,” said junior Kyleigh Kennedy, who added eight points. “Because, just being on the same team as her, it’s good for the whole team and it shows other teams we can do something and can be something if we all stick together.”
Added P-O coach Robert Sauerwein: “It’s a special moment for me just to watch someone like that play.”
On most nights, SJCA’s gutsy come-from-behind win would dominate headlines. The Lady Wolves (9-4) rallied from a 12-point third-quarter deficit — Selena Mann scored 23 of her 29 points in the second half and overtime — but all eyes were fixed to Philipsburg-Osceola (5-6) and its speedy 5-foot-6 point guard in Herrington.
After all, Herrington’s rare milestone occurs, on average, less than once a decade in Centre County.
Penns Valley’s Dana McDonald (2,269 points) became the first to reach the milestone during the 1988-89 season, and State College’s Kyla Irwin (2,032 points) did so in the 2015-16 season. No county boy has ever reached the double-century mark. And there’s no telling when someone else might again reach 2,000.
That wasn’t lost on Herrington, who acknowledged those butterflies were fluttering fast early in the game.
“It was in my head, definitely,” she said. “But I slowed down. I knew what I wanted, and I just made sure the shot went through.”
Herrington’s speed and confidence gave the Lady Wolves fits throughout the game. She was responsible for at least three fast breaks, after securing the steal or rebound herself, and she alternated between driving to the basket and attempting from long range.
During one play, midway through the third period, she sprinted toward the right corner of the court but stopped abruptly — forcing the SJCA defender’s momentum to continue carrying her to the right — and then Herrington stepped left, collecting herself for a moment before burying the 3.
After the Lady Wolves rallied, once Mann hit back-to-back and-1s late in the final quarter to cut the deficit to 47-46, Herrington swarmed defensively. SJCA made 1-of-2 free-throws in the final 90 seconds to tie the game, and Herrington held the ball with 5 seconds left — passing under the basket to a teammate, who was unable to get the shot off.
“She hates to lose, she has a motor, and she’ll do whatever it takes to win,” Sauerwein said. “Here’s a girl that scored 2,000 points and she deferred to someone else to win the game. She made the right play.”
SJCA’s Kathleen Simander opened the OT with a 3, and the Lady Wolves rolled from there. They never trailed in overtime.
Lady Wolves coach Katie Sosnoskie praised her seniors’ leadership and her team’s never-say-die attitude. But she had words of praise for Herrington, too.
“Halle’s an exceptional athlete, and congratulations to her,” Sosnoskie said. “It’s a fabulous accomplishment, and it looks like all of her hard work has paid off.”
For Herrington, Monday night wasn’t the ending she hoped for. But it was the milestone she spent the last year thinking about. It was the product of hope, hard work and heart all rolled into one.
So what’s left now?
“Being behind Kyla Irwin is pretty dang awesome since she’s playing at UConn right now,” Herrington said. “But if I can surpass her, and even the girl from Penns Valley?
“That’d be pretty awesome.”