Hammer nails 1,000th career point

For all the driving layups and rainbow-arcing 3-pointers she’s made over the years, it seemed almost anticlimactic for Kylie Hammer’s 1,000th career point to come on a free throw.

The junior sharpshooter for the Wayne High girls basketball team hit the magic plateau Friday during the Blue Devils’ 71-58 win over Hartington Cedar Catholic at Wayne High School. She added two more points later in the game to finish the night with 28 points and put herself well within striking distance of the all-time mark of 1,219 points set by Liz Reeg from 1989-93.

Hitting the 1,000-point mark has long been a goal of the daughter of Scott and Melissa Hammer, and she was thrilled to be able to do it on her home floor near the end of her junior season.

“I’ve worked my whole life focusing on basketball and centering my life around it, so hitting 1,000 is a huge milestone,” she said after the game. “I didn’t think I’d get it my junior year, though.”

Hammer’s passion for the game started at a very young age when she watched her older brother, Austin, practice his moves on the home basketball hoop.

“He started playing when I was five, and when he’d come home I’d try to do the moves he was doing and would practice it for hours until I could master it,” she said.

By fourth grade, Hammer was beginning to play competitively and has been involved in numerous summer camps and select leagues since. She’s also a talented athlete in volleyball and track, earning a fourth-place medal in the long jump at the Nebraska State Track and Field Championships as a freshman.

“Those sports help me stay in shape and help with mental toughness,” she said. “If you’re having a tough day, you just need to stay focused and remember what you want to get accomplished.”

Hammer has been able to average more than 24 points a game so far this season for the 12-4 Blue Devils, and while she’s a key element in the team’s offensive output, she’s not alone out on the perimeter, as senior Kelsey Boyer gives opposing defenses a second weapon to think about, which limits the amount of attention they can give to Hammer and her ability to hit from outside or quickly drive the lane and score.

“I love playing with her,” Hammer said of Boyer. “She has a fire in her, and when she’s on she is on and I try to look for her when she’s shooting like that.”

For now, Hammer has two goals on her basketball to-do list – break Reeg’s school record and help lead Wayne High to the state tournament, a place the Blue Devils have been only once (1993) in school history.

“Right now, I think we’re playing really well, and if we can keep this up and keep playing to our potential, I think we can make it,” Hammer said. “Our main goal is to make it to state and we have a huge chance of getting there and I believe we can do it.”

And if she doesn’t break the school record this year (at 24 points a game, she would break it sometime during subdistrict play next month), there’s always next year. And after that, she’s not sure what her future plans include.

“I want to either continue playing basketball or running track, but I’m not sure where,” she said. “I’d love to go to Iowa, but I know that’s a long shot, but Wayne State would be a good goal to pursue as well.”

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