EHT's Santiago reaches scoring milestone

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Selena Santiago Bill LeConey/Friends and family, including mom Dee and dad Ervin, joined Selena Santiago on the court for pictures. Her opponents from Holy Spirit High School also offered hugs and congratulations. EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – The countdown began early in the game for Selena Santiago.

Every time the Egg Harbor Township High School senior guard scored a point Friday, her friends would parade around the gymnasium with signs displaying how many points she needed to reach the magical 1,000 mark for her career.

Finally, with about three minutes left in the second quarter, Santiago dribbled across the top of the key and pulled up for a mid-range jump shot from near the foul line that found nothing but net – and the celebration was on.

Her teammates mobbed her at mid-court, then lined up for a ceremony that included flowers and balloons. Friends and family, including mom Dee and dad Ervin, joined her on the court for pictures. Her opponents from Holy Spirit High School also offered hugs and congratulations.

“I knew the shot was going in right when it left my hand,” Santiago said. “Mid-range, that’s where I shoot. I was just so happy it went in.”

Santiago became the ninth player in EHT girls basketball history to reach the century mark. Making it all the more special: her coach, Karen Shutz, scored her 1,000th point for EHT on the same floor back in 1997.

“It’s not often that you have a coach and a player from the same school score their 1,000th point on the same court,” Shutz said. “It’s really special.”

Despite the scoring milestone, Santiago prides herself on being a playmaker. She has led the Eagles in assists in each of the last three seasons.

“I love passing the ball,” she said. “I don’t like ball-hogging. I like getting my teammates the ball – that’s how you win, playing as a team.”

“Selena is a great kid,” Shutz said. “She always works hard. She’s been our leader. She’s not a selfish kid. She just goes out there and plays, and scores a lot for us, too.”

Santiago came into the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference game needing seven points to reach the milestone. She led her team with 13 in the game, but the Lady Eagles lost to Holy Spirit, 56-32. Eryn Reed chipped in 11 points for the Eagles (5-6, 7-11).

Gina Lewis led Holy Spirit with 15 points and Summer Crilley added 14. The Spartans improved to 10-1 in the conference, 14-4 overall.

Santiago hopes to keep playing basketball at Richard Stockton College next fall. But she still has some work to do at EHT: the Eagles have earned a berth in the NJSIAA Group 4 tournament, and will travel to No. 2 seed Washington Township for a first-round game on Feb. 25.

“It’s my senior year, so I’ve just got to go as hard as I can every time out,” Santiago said.


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