Karlie O’Driscoll scored a basket and retreated to defend, a routine that the Sharon High girls basketball senior captain has practiced hundreds of times during her illustrious career.
In this instance, during the third quarter of Eagles’ final regular-season game, on Feb. 19 vs. Holliston, O’Driscoll’s teammates rushed up to her, blindsiding their leader. The Hockomock League MVP had not known, but with that shot nestling into the hoop, she tallied her 1,000th career point, achieving a long-sought-after goal.
Play halted, and O’Driscoll received embraces from her teammates and flowers, the game ball, and a hug from Head Coach Kate Horsmann. Her parents and sisters then descended from the bleachers for celebratory pictures.
At the tail-end of a remarkably successful regular season for the Eagles, in which the program won their first Hockomock title in 37 years, O’Driscoll’s accomplishments were recognized in grand fashion. “That was really special, knowing that everyone was there watching me and knew I had accomplished this. It was awesome,” O’Driscoll said.
O’Driscoll says that Horsmann never informed her of her proximity to the 1,000-point number at any point. During the game, her teammates were aware how many more points she needed, but she didn’t. She says that she “knew” she was going to reach it that game because she was “pretty close”.
“After every shot I took, I was like, ‘Is that it? No.’ I took another one, [thinking], ‘Is that it? No,’” O’Driscoll said. “Finally, we went on a 12-point run in the third quarter, and the game stopped. I was actually running back on defense, had no idea. Everyone came up to me, started giving me hugs and cheering for me. I felt amazing after.”
“I was extremely proud and really happy that Karlie reached her 1,000 points,” Horsmann said. “Our #1 goal this year was to win the Hock, and Karlie put her 1,000 points on the back burner and made sure we achieved that goal. It was great to see a player with such a team-[oriented] focus score that magical 1,000th point and be recognized for her hard work.”
O’Driscoll says that when she was younger, she was “really small”, so she was bred as a point guard and developed the ballhandling and outside shooting skills of that position. Upon O’Driscoll entering high school, Horsmann changed her position to forward, requiring her to “learn a new game” as a post player.
“Growing up with the guard skills, I’m a big post [player], but I still have those guard skills. Now, I can step back and take the three, I can cross somebody up, and I can also post up and take a shot to the basket. Putting me down in the post freshman year really made my game complete,” O’Driscoll said.
In addition to O’Driscoll becoming bigger and stronger over her high school career, Horsmann says that O’Driscoll has become more assertive on the court offensively and rebounding-wise, recognizing mismatches that her varied skillset and size create. “I do not think there is another player in the league who could have done what Karlie did this season,” Horsmann said.
O’Driscoll says that when playing for the varsity team as a freshman, although she didn’t score much that season, she realized that she had a shot to reach 1,000 points over her four years. “I really tried to, and I really wanted to. By junior year, I kept pushing myself to making it there,” O’Driscoll said.
Although she never knew exactly how far away she was from reaching quadruple digits, O’Driscoll was constantly bombarded with curious observers inquiring regarding her progress.
“Everyone, the entire season, was asking me, ‘how far away are you? Are you close’? I honestly had no idea, because I was thinking more about our team and reaching our goal as Hockomock champions. I wasn’t really focused on it, but I knew that I could do it,” she said.
O’Driscoll says that after Sharon boys senior captains Brian Mukasa (Jan. 7) and James Fritzson (Feb. 4) each reached 1,000 points for their respective careers, the continual spotlight that was shined on her brightened immeasurably.
“It did put pressure on me. People came up to me in school, after Brian and Jimmy had scored theirs. They’d be like, ‘Oh, you’re next.’ ‘How far away are you?’ ‘Are you close?’ ‘It’s amazing if there could be three of them this year,’” O’Driscoll said. “After Jimmy had scored it, I kind of felt the pressure, like, ‘Oh, everyone’s expecting me to score it this year. I have to score it.’”
O’Driscoll says that her teammates were extremely supportive, and that during games, she blocked out all noise regarding her personal statistics, instead scoring solely to benefit her squad on the scoreboard.
“I wasn’t really focused on scoring that many points. I was just playing, and hoping that it would happen,” O’Driscoll said. Horsmann added, “She has always been a ‘team-first, win-first player’ versus a ‘make the All-Star team’ player.”
Horsmann says that opposing teams focused their defensive attention squarely on O’Driscoll, yet for the second consecutive season, she led Sharon during the regular season (per game averages) in points (16.9, a league-high), rebounds (9), assists (2.7), steals (4), and blocks (2.4).
One intangible area in which Horsmann has seen an improvement this season from O’Driscoll has been in how her captain handles frustrations on the court. “Controlling her frustration when things don't go well on the court is a sign of her maturity as a player,” Horsmann said.
O’Driscoll says that her teammates have greatly assisted their captain in that regard. “My teammates – I give all the credit to them. They really help me calm down.
“If I miss a few shots in a row, I’ll run back on defense, and I’ll have a teammate standing there, saying, ‘It’s OK. You’ll get the next one. Keep pushing. We need you in the game.’ Very motivational things to, kind of, get me past that. Instead of getting upset, I use that power now to help the team,” O’Driscoll added.
O’Driscoll says that she was proud to contribute heavily – her efforts were “vital”, in Horsmann’s words - to Sharon’s winning the league title, the first such occurrence since 1977.
The team congregated prior to the season and realized that their “biggest goal” was to emerge come February as the Hockomock champions, O’Driscoll says. “We knew that this year, we could do it. We had all the tools, we had the heart, and we wanted it, so we set that as our goal.
“We have been working so hard this entire season to reach that goal. It just felt amazing to be a captain [along with fellow senior Lily Abarbanel] and a leader of this team to reach that goal. 37 years – that’s crazy. I will forever remember this,” O’Driscoll added.
After Eagles’ played “timid” on offense during the first half of their first-round playoff game versus Norwood on Tuesday, entering the break down three, O’Driscoll says that the team gathered in a poignant interaction.
“The emotions in the locker room, thinking that this could be the last 16 minutes that we play together, really helped us and motivated us for the second half.
“We all came out with fire in our eyes, we dug deep into our hearts, and we played amazing. Our shots started falling, we were hustling. We played for each other, so that we could see another day,” O’Driscoll added.
O’Driscoll says that she does not attempt many three-pointers because she usually plays near the basket. Nonetheless, with :46.9 remaining and the score deadlocked at 41, she stepped outside for the most important shot of the season.
“The player who was guarding me was very good. I just tried to fake her out one way. I knew that we were tied and we didn’t have that much time left; the clock was running down. I got myself a little opening on the three-point arc, just threw it up, and hoped for the best. It went in,” O’Driscoll said.
Next up for 7-seeded Sharon is the Division II South Quarterfinals on Thursday, when the Eagles welcome Davenport Division rival Oliver Ames to Eagle Gymnasium. The teams split during the regular season, each side winning on its home floor.
O’Driscoll says that the Tigers and Eagles match up well with each other, with each side featuring quick players who shoot well. “I think that our team, one-on-one, would beat them talent-wise, but they are very athletic and very skilled, and that’s why they’re good.
“We need to come out with the heart, we need to hustle the entire time, and I think that we will pull away with the win,” she added. The victor advances to face the O’Bryant/Nauset winner in the sectional semifinals.
Looking ahead to next year, O’Driscoll says that she was recruited to play basketball by numerous schools, most of them Div. II and III, and decided upon Caldwell College in New Jersey, which offered her a full-ride scholarship.
O’Driscoll hopes to start next season for the Cougars in the
‘4’ position, and enters the college without declaring a major. “I loved the
coach, I loved the players,” she said. “It just seemed like the perfect fit for