TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Monday was a long day for Leah McDonell. She woke up, took a couple tests and then prepared for a game she and her teammates have been anticipating all season.
But shorty after tip off in a 6 p.m. Monsignor Martin league game against Mount Mercy, she was finally able to exhale.
That's because McDonell, from Tonawanda, scored the first basket of the game, which was all she needed to move into the No. 1 spot on the Cardinal O'Hara all-time leading scorer's list, where she currently stands with 1,362 points. The Lady Hawks beat Mt. Mercy, 64-26.
Most of McDonell's family was in attendance to witness her break the record after a long day of excitement and anticipation. She's now ready to move forward, she said, and return the focus to her team's goals.
"There was a lot of anticipation, I guess you could say. Everyone was like, 'you're only two points away,'" McDonell said. "Last game they were like, 'you just missed it,' but I was like, 'now I can do it on the home court.' I was excited about that. ... But I don't look at things on a personal level, I look at it on a team level. I accomplished something great personally, but as a team I know we can accomplish so much more."
McDonell is known for her work ethic and commitment to all phases of the game, according to coach Dan McDermott, so it was fitting how she scored her record-breaking basket.
"I'm sure there was a lot of nervousness and anxiety, knowing a lot of people were here and the cameras are on her, but it was the best possible way for her to get that basket: working hard on defense, getting a steal, going in strong and finishing with her left hand," McDermott said. "Then going to the line on top of that. It's so typical of the way she is. She's always rising to the occasion when things are toughest and when we need her to do well."