LEXINGTON — Most followers of Scott County High School girls' basketball will carry the memories of Morgan DeFoor's limitless 3-point range and jaw-dropping, no-look passes far into the future.
When SC coach Steve Helton takes inventory of the Lady Cards' all-time greats, long after his coaching days are over, he'll reminisce about something less tangible but perhaps even more crucial to the program's success.
“Her basketball IQ is incredible,” Helton said. “This has never wavered. Her basketball IQ is one of the highest we've coached.”
DeFoor's scoring volume also stands near the head of that class. She became the sixth girl in Scott County lore to land 2,000 career points Tuesday night in an 89-28 rout of Bryan Station.
Known also for her explosiveness on SC’s fast break, the 5-foot-6 senior point guard collected the milestone in fitting fashion. DeFoor cashed in a steal and pass from Emma Price for an uncontested layup with 1:10 remaining in the third quarter.
Scott County's bench and crowd served up a hearty ovation as Bryan Station briefly acknowledged the milestone over the public address system. Due to a discrepancy in the halftime statistics, though, Helton thought he'd been “punked” after her previous hoop in the quarter.
“I thought she had 2,000 already,” Helton said. “Everybody was laughing because I really got into that layup she had.”
Hard numbers are difficult to come by at a school for which so much basketball success has become routine. There are banners in the gym to honor Rebecca Gray Dyer and Ukari Figgs, who are 1-2 in the history of the SCHS gitls' program.
When Maaliya Owens joined the 2,000-point club last year, she was briefly hailed as the third Lady Card to become a member of the group until it was pointed out that Kristen Stainback Fields, star of the team roughly a decade ago, also accomplished the feat.
Now DeFoor's round numbers have brought to light a reminder in Chelsia Limon's college biography from Middle Tennessee that she, too, topped 2K in high school.
Whatever the roll call, DeFoor is in special company.
“We don't talk a lot about individual accomplishments, but it was a great night for Morgan,” Helton said. “To see every kid on that bench pulling for her. What an incredible accomplishment by that kid. I've said it along, she's just a dynamic scorer. Really proud of her.”
DeFoor hit the mark with her final basket, giving her 14 points on a night when the starters played approximately 2½ quarters. She also dished out nine assists.
The prime beneficiary: 6-foot-3 senior Malea Williams, who erupted for career highs of 32 points and five 3-pointers to go with 15 rebounds. Williams is now only 16 points away from her own magic number of 1,000 points, achieved primarily in her junior and senior seasons.
Affectionately known as the “Red Mamba,” a play on NBA great Kobe Bryant's nickname, the ginger-haired DeFoor has graced an SC varsity uniform since sixth grade. Her debut was the final year the KHSAA allowed such a head start. It now requires athletes to reach seventh grade before playing up.
“Nine big points as a sixth-grader,” Helton noted.
After sharing the spotlight with Peyton Riddle (1,800 career points) and Owens her first three years of high school, DeFoor has headlined a “Big Three” that included fellow D1 prospects Williams and junior Kenady Tompkins this winter. Her average of 19.8 points per game leads the team. Helton compared her court sense to the elite players in his 20 years at the helm.
“When you think of basketball IQ, you think of Chelsia Lymon, Rebecca Gray, Kristen Stainback, Kayla Moses, Morgan DeFoor, because she sees that next play,” he said. “We've had a handful of kids that I can say knew the game, knew how to play the game, and played to the next pass and the next rotation. (She is) very intelligent in the classroom, and it carries over to the court.”
Scott County (12-5 overall, 3-0 42nd District) removed all drama except for DeFoor's pursuit of 2,000 points with a 20-0 run from the opening tip-off.
DeFoor crafted eight of those points. She went end-to-end after a rebound by Williams for the Lady Cards' second basket. Later in the surge, DeFoor dropped in six consecutive points on two run-out layups and a pair of free throws.
Another uncontested layup late in the quarter gave her 10 to go with a pair of assists, staking SC to a 33-8 advantage.
“She's offensive minded, but she's also offensive gifted,” Helton said. “She probably could have had more assists tonight. We blew some layups.”
Williams couldn't be stopped from 3-point range. She drained all five attempts in a performance that could have only left major college scouts salivating.
Kenady Tompkins and Kennon Owens added 10 points apiece for SC. Tompkins had a team-high five steals, contributing t0 27 turnovers by Bryan Station.
Suffice it to say there will be more challenging nights ahead.
“I wanted to play. I didn't want to wait until the Toyota Classic. That's why the schedule kind of worked out to play this opening game,” Helton said. “We did some good things at times. Any time you get a big lead like that, it's hard, but then we finished off well enough to take something good out of it.”
Scott County led 50-19 at the half before the flourish that both triggered the running clock and etched DeFoor's place in history.
Williams' blocked shot, rebound and outlet pass took DeFoor to 1,998 before a series of missed opportunities in the rare conservative half court set from SC. There was no stopping her after Price's takeaway started a two-on-one, though.
“I just can't say enough about our entire team. If Malea Williams continues to shoot the ball like she did, it's really going to open a lot of opportunities for our team,” Helton said. “Good win, good district win. I can't stress that enough. We host (the tournament). We want the one seed. It's a mental edge. It's a home court edge. You want to play (against the winner of) that four-five play-in game. You don't want to take any chances, because you just never know.”
Scott County, whose only in-state loss since the second week of the season was to reigning KHSAA champ Ryle, will host Lincoln County (Thursday), Great Crossing (Friday) and Simon Kenton (Saturday) at the Toyota Classic. Helton said the school plans to formally recognize DeFoor at its next home game after the tournament.
All five previous 2,000-point scorers for the Lady Cards went on to an NCAA Division I career. Likewise, DeFoor is signed with NCAA Division I Morehead State University.
Figgs, who won KHSAA, NCAA and WNBA championships on her way to the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame, was the only player on the list to precede Helton, whose preferred, high-octane approach has certainly played a role.
“The style gives kids a lot of freedom, and those kids who have the skill and the talent, they have that opportunity,” he said. “Again, though, after the game we said, 'If this was it, this would be a hug and tears,' but hopefully she's got a lot more points left in her between now and the end of the season.”
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.