A growth spurt added some weapons to Kate Hillyer’s basketball arsenal.
But the 5-foot-10 senior guard for Eureka High's girls basketball team always has been able to score.
Hillyer, who grew half a foot after making an immediate impact as a 5-4 freshman for the Wildcats, became the program's all-time leading scorer Friday.
“I see the game completely differently than I used to see it,” Hillyer said. “I can guard taller players and my height allows me to drive to the basket more than I was able to when I was that small."
In a 56-53 home loss to Ladue, Hillyer scored 31 points. That effort gave Hillyer 1,609 points and moved her past the 20-year program record of 1,605 points established by 2001 graduate Tiffany Stewart, who helped Eureka to the Class 4A state title in 2000.
Hillyer also progressed past her sister, 2012 graduate Alex Hillyer, on Eureka's all-time scoring list.
"This record may stand for, at least, another 20 years,” Eureka coach James Alsup said.
Hillyer is averaging 22.5 points this season for Eureka (7-6). She has scored 32 points in two games to go along with the 31-point effort on her record-breaking night.
The senior has been Eureka's leading scorer all four of her seasons — averaging 15.4 points as a freshman, 16.9 as a sophomore and 17.7 as a junior.
Hillyer's career high output was 39 points in a game Jan. 15, 2019, against Seckman.
She has signed to play college basketball at William Jewell.
The next goal for Hillyer is to help the Wildcats win their first district title since 2014.
"I think we’re playing really good as a team," Hillyer said. "We’re a young team, but we’re meshing together so well. I’m excited to see what this team can accomplish the rest of the season.”
COVID-19 UPDATE: FRANCIS HOWELL, JOHN BURROUGHS, UNION ON QUARANTINE
While they’re hardly the only teams to have to find a way to get things done during the coronavirus pandemic, John Burroughs, Union and Francis Howell are among the latest teams to have to deal with the issue.
Union (5-0) is on quarantine for the second time this season and had to miss its own tournament, just as Union's softball team had to for the same reason in August. Union's Four River Conference game Monday at New Haven also is postponed.
Wildcats senior forward Julia Overstreet, who is not in quarantine, said missing out on the home tournament has been tough.
“It was difficult to watch the other teams play on our court,” Overstreet said. “I always try to keep a positive attitude and make sure my teammates keep the same positive mentality because of how well we have been doing this year. I don't want them getting down on themselves and having a negative attitude.”
Union coach Pat Rapert said the final stretch of games in just more than a month aren't the only challenge.
The Wildcats beat Waynesville and Hickman by 30 and 35 points last week before putting another pause on the season.
“It has been difficult because you get in a flow of practice and games, and then you have to basically start over again,” Rapert said. “This is our second quarantine so, obviously, conditioning and staying positive becomes a concern. This is definitely a resilient group. We have six seniors who have not only played a lot, but they are all solid students as well. They have handled this situation very well while leading our underclassmen as well. I think because of this unique situation the girls have come out hungry each time and taking nothing for granted. Our effort has been really good up to this point.”
Francis Howell (3-4) will be sidelined until the week of Jan. 25 after having players come into contact with someone who has tested positive, athletics director Sean Erwin said.
As of now, games with Fort Zumwalt East (Jan. 13), Francis Howell Central (Jan. 15), Holt (Jan. 19) and Troy (Jan. 22) won’t be played as scheduled.
“We have players that have to be quarantined, so we are unable to play our games the next two weeks,” Erwin said. “We are in the process of rescheduling all of them.”
John Burroughs (6-1), which won its own tournament last week, went into quarantine and canceled Tuesday's game against Lift for Life and Friday's scheduled game against MICDS.
The Bombers also rescheduled a Metro League game against Lutheran North for Feb. 4 which had been set for Jan. 19.
FOWLER SETS HERCULANEUM'S SINGLE-GAME RECORD
Black Cats coach Riley Blair said that Fowler broke the former record of 36 points in a single game, which was set in 2015-16 by senior Cailey Metcalf.
“Just like the other records I’ve broken at the school, it feels amazing,” Fowler said. “I’m making my mark here. I had no clue what the record was. Going into that game, I hadn’t been scoring like I had in the past. I was talking to my dad and he was like, ‘I need a 20-point night out of you and I need you to get back to what you’ve been like your senior year,’ and I wasn’t sure I could.”
Including the 45-point game, Fowler has been on a tear for the Black Cats (7-5) with 123 points in her last five games.
“She’s been playing really well,” Blair said. “To play like she has, to me, that’s really impressive. There’s probably no one that’s more dedicated, puts more time into the sport than Paige does. Earlier in the year, she was struggling, trying to do too much and be too fancy. I had a meeting with her and she’s really answered the call since. Hopefully, her success continues.”
GRAND MARK FOR URSULINE'S SCHERZINGER
Scherzinger is averaging 19.3 points per game for Ursuline (5-1).
“We are all happy for her,” Ursuline coach Jeff Stevens said. “Coaching her these past four years has been great. She practices as hard as she plays and never takes a day off. Every day she is trying to improve her game, whether it's watching hours of film or getting extra work in the gym.”