ORANGE PARK - St. Johns Country Day School senior point guard Kendall Sage was not quite feeling okay for her shot at 29 points against visiting Ridgeview High and her 1,000th career points for the Lady Spartans with a sub-par 12-point first half looking like a Thursday home game might be the night for all to show up to watch history get made.
"She has been fighting an ear infection, a flu-like episode and just a lot going on," said Barbara Sage, Kendall's mom and the Spartan scorekeeper as she noted the 12-point first half. "She is a better second half shooter though."
Mom's intuition proved prophetic as daughter Kendall exploded for 23 second half points and a steal to breakaway layup just before the two minutes to go mark that got her to 1,001 career points (and a technical foul for excessive celebration and team leaving the bench area-Oops!). St. Johns would win the game 80-51 and remains undefeated at 4-0.
"I never keep count, I just think about the game," said Sage, who has averaged near 25 points per game for most of her four years as a Spartan starter. "I wanted it to be a home game and I knew we had a home game on Thursday, but this is special."
For Spartan coach Yolando Bronston, visibly emotional about the feat, Sage's mark would be her first 1,000 point athlete.
"When I came here two years ago, Kendall was the player I knew would drive the program," said Bronston. "I've had 1,000 point teammates, but she is my first 1,000 shooter. Kendall has always been the one to lead and the rest of the girls are working to step up and be like her."
Bronston noted also that teammate Mary Kate Kent, just an eighth grader nailed six three pointers and finished with 32 points alongside Sage.
"Kendall knows this and I know that the rest of the girls stepped up to get her to this point," said Bronston. "She has elevated the program's future."
Bronston recollected her first half chat with Sage who appeared to be rushing her shots in the first half and missing routine layups and free throws.
"I told her to just let the flow of the game dictate her shots," said Bronston. "She got in her groove with Mary Kate on her side and the both of them got hot. I tell the girls all the time they all have the green light for shots. I want 10 shooters for defenses to worry about."
In the first quarter, St. Johns pushed away from a 19-15 game to a 27-18 score as the quarter ended with Kent nailing two threes and Sage hitting her first.
Ridgeview fought back to 30-27 in the second quarter with guard Paetyn Miller pushing her own three pointers in and guard Ta'Myria Countryman wheeling and dealing for inside shots as the Lady Panthers tried to not let the game get away from them.
In a flurry just before halftime, Kent accounted for nine points in four minutes to get the lead to 43-29.
Sage and Kent continued their long range air attack to a 58-34 third quarter lead with Sage getting to 22 points for the night.
Center Kinley Hall would bank a turnaround jumper in for the first points of the fourth quarter before Sage sandwich two three pointers around a Kent three to get to 28 points and a 69-37 lead before Ridgeview locked down for a bit and kept Sage off the scoreboard for nearly three minutes until a steal at halfcourt became a breakaway layup for points 29 and 30.
"I was just hoping I didn't get fouled because I wanted the points to come on a shot," said Sage. "Then the team rushed me and we got the technical fouls."
Sage hit two more layups; one the final shot of the night.