Rich enters elite company at Johnston City

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

Thursday night was a big night for Paige Rich and it was nothing new for her.

The Johnston City High School junior finished that night’s game with 18 points in the Indians’ 67-63 win over Fairfield High School.

She received the biggest cheer during pregame introductions from her hometown crowd. But that was not what made Thursday such a big night for Rich.

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Rich entered the game only 6 points shy of 1,000 for her career.

She went to the free throw line nearly three and a half minutes into the game, and made two foul shots. The second shot was her 1,000th career point, a mark reached by only five other Johnston City girls basketball players. Just one other player reached it in her junior year.

Play was paused momentarily to swap out the game ball after Rich’s second free throw. She expressed satisfaction with reaching this milestone.

“It’s pretty special,” Rich said. “At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to score my 1,000th in my junior year.”

Johnston City coach Lenny Clark said Rich is a force to be reckoned with for opposing teams.

“Most teams we’ve played this year have game-planned to try to stop Paige,” Clark said. “Our kids have really stepped up and filled in some of the other roles, but most teams look at it as they have to stop our big girl.”

At 6-foot-0 inches, she is the biggest player on the Indians’ roster and 9 inches taller than the average woman in the United States.

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Stopping Rich means packing the lane, usually with a zone defense, because she takes the vast majority of her shots from the low block.

With no seniors on the roster, Clark said it is important for his juniors to become leaders because of the experience.

“We’re starting three juniors and two sophomores, and the first girl off our bench is a sophomore, so we’re still pretty young,” Clark said. “It’s difficult for a junior to accept that role. You grow into it through experience, and I think we’ve got four good juniors leading us this year.”

Rich also competes for the Lady Indian volleyball and track teams. She said she has not yet talked with any colleges about furthering her athletic career.

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected]egyptian.com or at 536-3311 ext. 269.

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