BRANFORD, Fla. — It’s a number Cera McElreath wanted.
Yet, when it happened, McElreath didn’t even realize it.
It wasn’t until after the Branford High junior pumped in 30 points against Bronson on Jan. 9 that she looked at her career numbers and realized she had achieved the goal she had long ago set.
“That was a really cool moment for me,” she said Thursday about realizing she had broken the 1,000 point mark. “As soon as I saw others do that, I had to. I had to. It wasn’t a choice. It was something I needed to do.
“And as I kept getting closer, I kept pushing harder every game to make shots, make shots.”
That hasn’t been a problem for McElreath so far this season. After averaging 10.5 points per game the past three years for the Buccaneers, McElreath has elevated her game this season. After the Bucs’ 56-42 win against Union County on Friday, the 5-foot-6 McElreath has now totaled 1,083 points for her career. She is averaging 19.53 points per game this year.
Most of those points have come on drives to the basket, which is McElreath’s strength.
“I drive a lot,” she said. “I usually go in and make layups and that’s my No. 1 way to score.
“That’s my move. Everybody knows my spin move.”
She also is adept, though, at shooting from long range.
Branford coach Carla Suggs said in addition to topping 1,000 points, McElreath is also closing in on surpassing the school’s mark for 3-pointers made.
Still, McElreath knows there is still work to be done to take her game to another level.
“Definitely my mid-range,” she said. “My jump stops and mid-range could use some work. They fall every now and then but it’s not as high as I’d like it to be.”
Working on her game, though, is something McElreath has no problem doing. A year ago, Branford needed McElreath to trade in her outside ability for banging down low.
Not a problem for the undersized post. She has averaged 7.5 rebounds per game the past two seasons, while also averaging more than four steals per game this year.
“Last year she had to play underneath for us as a post and that kind of took her 3-point shot away a little bit,” Suggs said. “But she’s an offensive rebounder and putback. It didn’t hurt her scoring opportunities. But it really upped her rebounding. She throws out some assists, steals.
“She’s a player.”
McElreath, too, admitted while tough at times, the transition last year to post before moving back outside this year was good.
“I’ve worked really hard on being able to rebound as a shorter girl,” she said. “I’ve worked really hard underneath.
“So that’s helped me knowing how to play every single position.”
It’s also helped that McElreath, who also starred for Branford’s volleyball team in the fall and will be a leader on the Bucs’ softball team this spring, is, as Suggs said, “a player.”
“She’s a natural,” Suggs said. “She works out too but she’s a natural.”
And after surpassing one goal, McElreath naturally has her sights set on a newer, loftier goal. She said she wants to look through the records she can find to see what the Branford school mark is. Suggs, who has coached at Branford for seven years, said in addition to Tori Suggs passing 1,000 points last year, that Blair Bullock topped 1,500 points a few years ago.
And McElreath isn’t planning on stopping there.
“It’s a really big thing,” Suggs said of scoring 1,000 points. “Still a big deal to hit 1000 points, especially as a junior.”
McElreath added: “I want to see what that record is and beat that. 2,000 would be really difficult. That would be a really high-set goal, but that would be something I’m striving for. 1,500, I’ll get but 2,000 would be difficult. But that’s definitely something I’m hoping for.”