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Mueller’s milestone part of Radnor’s latest achievement

MEDIANEWS GROUP PHOTO Radnor's Ellie Mueller, center, celebrates after hitting 1,000 points for her career Tuesday night in a 58-52 win over West Chester East in the District 1 Class 5A playbacks. The win gets the Raiders back to the PIAA tournament.

RADNOR — Ellie Mueller scored her 1,000th career point for Radnor on a layup in the third quarter of the District 1 Class 5A basketball playback Monday against West Chester East.

It only seemed like she got 999 points in the first frame, the junior forward erupting for 12 straight points in a glorious stretch to turn a one-point deficit into a double-digit lead and eventually a 58-52 victory. The triumph sends the Raiders to the state tournament for the fourth time in six years.

Mueller matched a career-high with 29 points, giving her 1,012 in her career. Raiders senior Holly Holtsberg contributed four points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 10 blocked shots, several of the snuffs frustrating East star Marrissa McDonald, who finished with 20 points.

All of it left coach Mark Jordan with a smile you couldn’t wipe off his face, particularly due to four state tournament berths.

“Erin dominated the one end, Holly the other end,” Jordan said. “We’re ecstatic. Tickled to be back in the state tournament again. Fourth appearance in six years, that’s an accomplishment. We’re not really a basketball school. We’re not Springfield or Garnet Valley.”

The Raiders are a force, nonetheless, and they’ll host Pope John Paul II in the fifth-place game Friday.

Mueller and the Raiders know they’ll have to shoot free throws better, as they made just 12 of 26 versus the Vikings. But there’s a lot to like about this Radnor team, starting with Mueller, Holtsberg and guard Brienne Williams, whose drive and look-away pass set up the milestone basket.

“I knew that she was going to get 1,000 points at some point but I had no clue that was the shot,” Williams said. “But I’m glad it was from me. It was so cool. I’m so happy for her. She works so hard. She deserves it. It was really good to see her hard work pay off. She’s always one of our top scorers. We really look to her to drive things.”

It seemed like the Vikings were fresh out of luck when Mueller went off in the first quarter. After senior Mackenzie Robinson scored their first six points on a pair of threes, their shots wouldn’t fall and they were outhustled. But Lauren Klieber got a basket and McDonald scored on a drive and a three-pointer to keep it a game.

Mueller had 16 points at the half, one short of the magic number, and was reminded of it every step along the way by teammates and fans ready to roll out the celebratory banners.

“I had it in the back of my mind because I didn’t score for a while,” Mueller said. “I came to the bench and people were like, ‘you are so close.’ So, I just kept playing my game. When I’m moving around in the middle and they find me it really helps us. It makes us a threat in different ways because they can drive and pass, but they can also drive and shoot.”

Mueller also was the face of the full court press the Raiders enjoy playing. She’s the girl jumping in front of the opponent trying to inbound the ball. The Vikings struggled against it, making bad decisions and hurrying shorts.

Mueller wound up with three steals and seven rebounds.

All of that said, the Vikings hung in. They got within five points on a trey by McDonald with 1:36 left before the Raiders made six of their last eight free throws.

“To fight in the last game the way that we fought, I told them that if you have to lose, that’s the way you go out,” East coach Erin Listrani said. “They battled. I love my kids. They do anything I ask them to do and they never stop. Early on (Mueller) was having her way with us. We were turning the ball over, and it could have gone south really quick. But we just kept hanging around. We just ran out of time at the end.”

Listrani said she thanked her seniors for getting the program to where it was and asked the underclassmen to remember how painful it is when the season ends. The Raiders have been there. And they’re better for it.

“This was a do or die for us,” Mueller said. “It’s my second trip to states. I went there freshman year. It was an awesome experience. Crazy loud gym. Completely on another planet. A lot of my family and friends came here tonight. It was exciting. But it’s not so much about the number as the game and going to states.”

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