By Josh Perry, HockomockSports.com
In 2014, Sharon’s Karlie O’Driscoll and Mansfield’s Rocky DeAndrade compiled impressive lists of achievements during their senior years of high school. Both reached the South Sectional final (O’Driscoll in Div. 2 and DeAndrade for the second straight year in Div. 1), both were named Hockomock League MVPs by the coaches, and both were selected as Player of the Year by this website.
This week, now as seniors in college, they were both making headlines again.
O’Driscoll, a forward at Caldwell College (N.J.), scored her 1,000th point on Jan. 24 in a 72-49 victory over Felician College. The next night, DeAndrade notched his 1,000th career point in a 68-58 victory over Fitchburg State.
“Going into college, there’s definitely a possibility [of scoring 1,000 points] if I do my job and do what I have to do, but it wasn’t a goal for me because I wanted to do more about the team aspect,” O’Driscoll said in a phone call on Friday. “Each game I wasn’t thinking, oh I need to score to get closer to my 1,000, I was just thinking I need to score to make my team win and it just kind of happened.”
DeAndrade had similar thoughts about getting to 1,000 points for the Bears. He said, “It’s not something you think about really. I expect to get there, so you just work hard and do your thing. I knew if I stayed there for four years that the chances of getting it were pretty inevitable.”
Chasing 1,000 points and dealing with the excitement that builds up as you get closer to the milestone was something that O’Driscoll dealt with in high school. She also reached that total at Sharon and knew what to expect. She had also seen two of her fellow seniors, Kristen Drogsler and Sharell Sanders, reach that mark in the past two years.
“At Sharon, it was an amazing experience to be able to do that and in college I’ve had so many teammates in the past four year who have reached that milestone, so it was special for me to be able to join so many amazing players,” she explained.
Coming into the game, O’Driscoll needed 15 points to get to 1,000. She got off to a great start, scoring 14 points in the first half. “I wasn’t trying to force it too much,” she said. “I know a lot of my teammates were trying to get me the ball and I told them midway through the first half to stop forcing the ball to me, it will happen when it happens.”
Just a point away in the third quarter, her team ran a play for her to start the half, but it did not go as planned and the ball was knocked away. The inbound was also intended for O’Driscoll, but again it was tipped out of play. Finally, on the third try, the ball got into guard Tina Lebron and she drove and dished to O’Driscoll for a layup and the foul.
“It was a lot more emotional this time,” said O’Driscoll, who finished that night with 20 points and 10 rebounds. “In high school, I knew I was playing in college, so I knew I had four more years to play basketball. I think it’s really setting in now that this is my last year, my last few games, so to do something like this to represent my school and myself was such a different experience.”
DeAndrade came close to reaching 1,000 points in high school, scoring more than 900 for his career, but never had the countdown or the hype that surrounded the milestone until this season. He went into the Fitchburg game knowing that he had a shot to get there, but tried to keep it out of his mind.
“Before the game, I wasn’t nervous at all,” he said. “I was excited. I thought I was going to have a really big game.” He was right. DeAndrade scored 10 points to get within a basket with most of the second half remaining and the Bears holding onto a lead, but that last two points took a while to happen.
“I needed two points with 11 minutes to go in the second half and I was like, okay I’m going to get this, just play your game,” he recalled. “Sure enough, the clock just kept going and we’re under two minutes and I still need two points, so I was like oh jeez I need to get going now.”
DeAndrade reached his milestone at the line, knocking down a pair of free throws with 1:48 left to play. When the Bears got the ball back, they stopped the game to celebrate his accomplishment.
He said, “I think the whole hype of the night, you know, and the expectation to get 1,000 that night it was a relief to get it over with. It was awesome though.”
When asked what it felt like to say he was a 1,000-point scorer, DeAndrade said, “I haven’t thought of that, but it’s always good and my name will be in the rafters, so that’s cool.”
Not surprisingly, both players have their teams in good positions heading down the stretch of the season.
DeAndrade is leading the Bears with more than 16 points and nearly four assist per game and has Bridgewater at 5-1 through the first half of MASCAC play. O’Driscoll is second on the team with 11.3 points per game and has helped Caldwell to a 17-3 overall record, including 10-1 in the CACC.
For both seniors, the personal milestone was fun and important, but they each want to close out there collegiate careers like they did their high school ones – with league titles.
“I think we’ve made the changes we need to since last year and getting the whole team involved in doing their jobs and doing what we need to win,” said O’Driscoll, whose team reached the conference final but lost to University of Sciences and was knocked out in the first round of the Div. II NCAA tournament.
“Me and my fellow seniors have been together since the beginning,” she added, “and we’re really excited and really confident about winning the league this year. That’s a very strong goal we’ve had since the beginning and to do it our senior year and go out with a win would be incredible.”
DeAndrade had plenty of success in his four years at Mansfield and is hoping to translate that knowledge of how to win to the second half of the MASCAC campaign. He explained, “That would mean a lot. That would cap off the college experience.
“We put in a lot of work in from Oct. 15, so if you get to the end of the season and you can come away with the championship that’s obviously the big goal.”