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Grand day for Vazquez

Washington honored Bella Vazquez after she scored 1,000 points on Friday. SUPPLIED PHOTO

All season, Bella Vazquez was daydreaming about the big shot.

The talented scorer on the George Washington High School girls basketball team knew there was a chance she would take a fadeaway jump shot to get into the record books.

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Or maybe she would drive the lane and hit a layup to become the first girls basketball player to score 1,000.

Then again, she also played out the thought of draining a three to help her reach the milestone.

None of these happened.

Instead, she did it by sinking the front end of a free throw late in the first quarter on Friday in Washington’s 47-33 regular season finale win against of High School of the Future.

It wasn’t a storybook way to hit the mark, but that’s not important. She’s had plenty of highlight plays during her high school career, and the important thing is she made school history.

“It was fun, but all season I was excited about it,” said Vazquez, who finished with 27 points, giving her exactly 1,000 points at Washington to go along 18 she scored during her freshman season when she attended Archbishop Ryan. “When the year started, I knew what I needed to average a game to get it, and then I would have games where I wouldn’t score that much, so I decided to stop worrying about it.

“But everyone at school was excited. Teachers, teammates and everyone in the school would ask me if I was going to do it. Everyone was really supportive and wanted me to do it. It’s been a long time since anyone has done it and it’s the first time a girl did it. It was very cool.”

When the ball went through the net and the game was stopped for a brief celebration, Vazquez took a second to be proud of her accomplishment. But then it was back to thinking about the team.

Vazquez has helped guide the Eagles to an 11-1 record in Public League play. After a bye, they’ll start their playoff run on Friday against a team to be determined.

The rest is welcomed by Vazquez and her teammates.

“Last week, I jammed my finger when we were playing Lincoln,” Vazquez said. “I was worried I couldn’t play. It was my shooting hand, too. I just sat in my room, icing it and icing it. I wanted to get back out there. I knew I had to get the 1,000 points and I knew it was right before the playoffs.

“It’s good to have the time off next week. We have good players but we don’t have a lot of players, we are a small team, so we all can use the rest. Plus, we are playing well but we have a lot of things we can work on. We can get a lot better and we’ll have time to practice.”

With a little practice, Vazquez hopes the Eagles can put together a little run in the postseason.

Last year, Washington was able to dance to the Public League quarterfinals, but a lot of players from last year’s squad have moved on.

Vazquez, along with junior point guard Ireland Smith and center Janet Davis, return from last year’s team, and while they are the captains and team leaders, they have a lot of help from their supporting class.

“They got good fast,” Vazquez said. “They learned fast and they started playing important roles. We didn’t know how much they would help us this year, but they are doing a lot. It has us excited about the playoffs.”

Vazquez is happy that she can now focus on just playing instead of how many points she needs to reach a milestone. Every time she scores from here on out, she’ll be adding to her school record for points. But now there’s no pressure.

“I will still play just as hard, I just don’t have to worry about those things,” Vazquez said. “I tried not to think about it, but people would talk about it. I wanted it, but I want to win more than I want (statistics).”

She is now focused on her team, although she is looking around for a potential college. She’s unsure where she wants to go. She’s getting interest from many schools and the Morrell Park resident wants to find a school she loves.

But she does have her course of study narrowed down.

“I either want to study sports management or special education,” Vazquez said. “I’m involved with special-needs students at Washington and I love hanging out with them. They are involved in sports programs and they love sports. I’ll see them in the hallway and I’ll go up to them and give them a hug or a high five. It means a lot to them, and they mean a lot to me. I love helping them.”

She also loves sharing her athletic achievements with her parents.

Vazquez’s father played football, baseball and wrestled in high school, while her mom was a star basketball player at Northeast. But as great as mom was, she fell a few points shy of reaching 1,000.

“I told her I did it for her,” Vazquez said. “She couldn’t sleep when I was getting closer. She was worried after I hurt my finger. She really wanted me to do it. She’s definitely my No. 1 fan.

“My teammates, my coaches, the school and my parents all are a part of this. It’s fun that I can always say I was the first to ever do it, but I didn’t do it alone. I had a lot of help.”

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