CAIRNBROOK, Pa. – Needing 37 points to join an exclusive scoring club while playing in her first game after suffering an injury may have been a daunting task, but Shade senior Jenna Muha was determined to reach the milestone and help her team pick up a much-needed victory in Thursday’s WestPAC clash against Blacklick Valley.

A second-quarter scoring surge helped the Frostburg State signee score her 2,000th career point in the third frame.

Muha capped the night with two pivotal free throws with 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter to seal a 58-54 triumph.

“In school earlier, I was nervous,” said Muha, who finished with a game-high 43 points and 19 rebounds, her 10th contest this season with 30 or more points. “I really wanted to do it tonight because I wanted to get it at home.

“I just love them (teammates) all. They’re all my best friends. They were trying so hard, and I could not thank anyone but them, my coaches and my supporters, all the people that come to watch me.”

Blacklick Valley (7-8) took a late 52-51 lead on Mackenzie Kinter’s three-point play, but Shade scored the next five points.

Kinter drilled five 3-pointers in the first quarter and tallied 22 points. Kaydence Killinger added 16 points, and Kristin Szymusiak netted 15.

“One thing about us, we don’t look at the scoreboard,” Blacklick Valley coach Rich Price said. “These girls are going to give effort. They play hard. They practice hard. I’m just proud of them. The only thing that we didn’t do tonight was have more points at the end of the game.“

Muha was injured on Jan. 18 and sat out Jan. 20’s game against Berlin Brothersvalley. The 6-foot-1 forward was not going to be denied Thursday as she racked up 12 points in the first quarter and 16 more in the second. She needed 37 to reach 2,000.

With 1:04 left in the third quarter, Muha’s made free throw put her exactly at 2,000. Playing through injury is nothing new to Muha.

“I always get beat up,” Muha joked. “I just learned to play through it. It definitely was hard overcoming the adversity of it. Trying to ignore it put me into the mental game that I can get past it and play through it.”

Muha, a 2021-22 Class 1A first-team all-state basketball selection, joins her volleyball coach, Emma Spinelli (2,067), as the only girls in Shade history and the 10th overall player in Somerset County to reach 2,000 career points.

“I remember when I was little, I always looked up to Emma,” Muha said. “Emma was my role model. I remember telling my sister one day, ‘I want to get 2,000 points like Emma’ just out of the blue. She goes, ‘Well, you got to work hard at it.’ I’ve been working hard ever since.”

Muha’s experience was invaluable down the stretch to help Shade prevail in a thriller.

“Jenna makes everybody on the team play better,” Shade (10-6) coach Mark Satkovich said. “Her being on the floor is just uplifting to everybody that plays with her as you can see tonight. We play better defense when she plays. We play better offense when she plays. She really ignited the whole team. She’s a very good player.”

Blacklick Valley led 20-12 after the first quarter. A 9-0 Muha personal run in the second gave Shade its first lead at 21-20. Muha netted all of her team’s first 21 points. She provided 28 points as Shade led 30-26 at halftime.

A 13-12 Shade edge in the third set the stage for the back-and-forth affair in the fourth.

Kinter’s three-point play capped a 10-2 Blacklick Valley spurt.

Jake Oswalt is a copy editor for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @TheWizOfOz11.

Jake Oswalt is a copy editor for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @TheWizOfOz11

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