Milford senior Ashlen Portwood knew she was getting close to the school’s scoring record.
On Saturday afternoon in the Vermilion County Tournament at the David S. Palmer Arena, Portwood drained her only 3-pointer with 4 minutes, 56 seconds left — passing Misty Scherf to become the most prolific scorer in Lady Bearcat basketball history.
“It’s really exciting and I’m pretty relieved to put it behind me,” said Portwood, who finished with a game-high 23 points as Milford defeated Oakwood 65-26 in a first-round contest. “It’s been building up for these last couple of games.
“Everyone kept asking, ‘when is she going to break the school record?’ So, it feels great to accomplish it today.”
And Portwood accomplished her feat with Scherf, who is now Misty Courtney, sitting on the bench with the Bearcats coaching staff.
“I was shocked that she was here,” Portwood said. “I was really excited to see her on the bench, and I didn’t want to disappoint her. So, I was hoping to get those 21 points today.”
Portwood scored 12 of her 23 in the second quarter and she had 16 at halftime, but the 5-foot-10 senior forward didn’t know how close she was to the record in the third quarter.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to get to 21 today, because I’ve had some really tough defenses on me lately and I haven’t been scoring 20 points a game,” she said. “At halftime, I was curious, but I didn’t want to ask. I also didn’t keep track in my head like I sometimes do because I didn’t want the extra pressure.”
So when Erin McNally inbounded the ball to Portwood for the wide-open 3-pointer, the only people that knew she had just broken the record were the Milford bench, including Courtney.
“I like to credit for it, but no, I didn’t call it,” Milford coach Rod Burgett said about the inbounds play.
Burgett immediately called a timeout to honor Portwood, who has 1,350 points. Courtney, who graduated in 1981, finished her career with 1,347 points. Burgett admitted it was special to have Courtney there for this game.
Oakwood coach Rick Bough said it couldn’t happen to a better person.
“When you look at kids that play sports in our conference, Ashlen Portwood is one of the top people in our league,” he said. “She always has a smile and when she sees you, she is quick to say hello.
“She is just a great kid.”
Bough was also very complimentary to the Milford team, which made 26-of-48 (54.2 percent) of its shots and the Bearcats (9-9) were 5-of-7 from 3-point range in the first quarter as they built a 27-2 lead over the Comets (8-13).
“That basket had to look as big as the ocean to them,” Bough said. “Give them credit, they got great shots and they hit them.”
Milford’s impressive shooting performance was a result of its efficient passing game as the Bearcats had 18 assists on 26 baskets.
“The pressure was building on person (Portwood) today, and the other four on the floor took the pressure off with their unselfish play,” Burgett said. “They didn’t caught up in everything, and neither did Ashley. It was a very good sight to see.”
Kylie Scherf, whose aunt is Courtney, finished with 11 points and a tournament-high seven assists.
“Anytime Ashlen is posting up, I trust her and try to get the ball down to her,” said Scherf, who had three of her team’s seven 3-pointers. “(Friday) night in practice, I was airballing shots left and right. Today, it just happened to fall for everyone.”
Also scoring in double figures for the Bearcats was Samantha Wilken with 10 points. Makenzie Baker led Oakwood with 16.
Milford advances to play Armstrong-Potomac in a semifinal contest at 8 p.m. on Tuesday night, while Oakwood faces Hoopeston Area in a consolation bracket game at 6:30 p.m. on Monday.