Maddie Thornton never wanted to score her 1,000th point the easy way.
So, when the Chichester senior was presented with an open invitation to drive to the basket uncontested in a game last week against Academy Park, Thornton balked at the opportunity.
She humbly declined and stuck to her belief that if she was going to reach the milestone, she would do it the old-fashioned way.
“I’ve earned all my points thus far,’ she said, “and I didn’t want it to be handed to me.’
Thornton was emotional over the outpouring of support from her fans and family who came out to root her on that night, to the Knights coaches and players, all of whom displayed class. Everybody was pulling for Thornton.
Alas, Chichester wound up losing by 30 points. And while she sat with 999 points in the dying moments of an otherwise forgettable loss, she felt the attention undeserved. To Thornton, celebrating such an awesome career milestone didn’t seem right. Instead, Thornton was looking out for the betterment of the team and didn’t want to disrespect Academy Park, which was on its way to a lopsided victory.
Chichester coach Mike Carrafa even called a timeout in the fourth quarter to allow Thornton to collect herself.
“It all hit me at once,’ she said, “Everyone was yelling at me — “Go, go, go!’ I didn’t it want to it that way, though.’
A member of the Academy Park basketball program raved about Thornton’s character in an email to the Daily Times later that night. He admired her selfless acts, and thought everyone in Delaware County should know what Thornton had done. Caraffa echoed those sentiments.
“I always thought of her as a top-notch kid but now, wow, what an act of integrity,’ Carrafa said. “She said she did not want to do it that way with a team letting her score. The gym was packed with people for her and she did that. Pretty special kid.’
Thornton finally got the one point she needed in the opening minutes of Thursday’s 65-59 overtime loss to Chester. She took a few dribbles inside the paint and pulled up for two. She was on her home court. Her parents, Tara and John, took countless pictures after play was stopped momentarily. There was an oversized balloon that read 1,000. After the game she put her name on the Chichester banner with several other great hoops players from Chichester.
Off the court, Thornton is a great student. She ranks ninth in her class and is a member of the National Honor Society, Rho Kappa (Social Studies) and Spanish Honor Society. She recently gave her commitment to Alvernia, where she intends to play basketball.
“I’m going for occupational therapy, which has a five-year master’s program. There’s only a few schools with it,’ she said. “It’s also more convenient because it’s close to home.’
A three-sport athlete, Thornton also is a standout volleyball and softball player. She’ll be a key cog in the Eagles’ quest to repeat as Del Val League champs this spring.
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Garnet Valley has maintained its stranglehold on first place in the Central League, boasting a 13-0 record. Entering Thursday, the Jags held a two-game lead on Strath Haven for the top spot. The Panthers have an impressive 11-2 mark in league competition, while Haverford is in third place with three losses.
Conestoga, Marple Newtown and Radnor are battling for fourth place. Both Marple and Radnor have already beaten Conestoga. The top four teams would make the Central League playoffs next week, but only if somebody can figure out a way to hand Garnet Valley its first defeat. If they finish unbeaten in the Central League for the second year in a row, the Jags would earn an automatic bye to the championship round. If the season ended Thursday, Strath Haven and Haverford would play in the semifinal. GV finishes with dates against Conestoga, Haverford and Ridley.
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It’s rare to see more than a few 30-point performances throughout the course of a girls basketball season. Among girls teams in Delco, the individual accomplishment has been reached on five occasions.
Strath Haven’s Katie Fisher, a junior guard, owns the high watermark with her 39-point performance in a classic four-overtime win over Haverford Jan. 13. Also of note is Fisher’s incredible rate at which she’s hit the free-throw line, leading all county players in attempts (158) and shots made (110)
Academy Park’s Mahya Woodton, a freshman guard with plenty of upside, is the only Delco girls player to eclipse the 30-point plateau twice. She scored 31 against Upper Darby Jan. 3 and 30 against Chester Jan. 8, both wins for the Knights.
Delco Christian’s Siani McNeil poured in a career-high 30 points in her team’s victory over Lancaster Mennonite last week. And Penn Wood junior Dahnye Redd netted 30 points in her team’s nonleague victory over Parkland, Dec. 21.
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Former Cardinal O’Hara athlete Fran Burbidge, who previously coached in the Delco-based AAU Comets organization and was an assistant on Chuck Simmonds’ staff at Episcopal Academy, led Bishop Shanahan to its first Ches-Mont League National Division title this week.
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Quick Hits: Ridley’s Kristin Saraceni churned out double figures in five of her previous seven games prior to Wednesday, averaging 10.8 points over that span. It’s a nice spike from her first nine games in which the senior guard averaged 5.3 points … Bonner-Prendergast All-Delco Alyssa Monaghan had 20 3-pointers in her first seven games.
To contact Matt Smith, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @DTMattSmith. For full statistical leaders, visit delcohssports.com.