Friday night was an historic evening for the McCreary Central Lady Raiders and Kaylee Cotton. Playing on the road at East Jessamine the Lady Raiders’ Senior reached one of her goals – surpassing 3,000 career points.
With 4:37 left in the fourth quarter Cotton, who had already scored 32 points in the game, grabbed a rebound under the basket, took one dribble to control the ball, and went up strong for the basket.
Her first shot didn’t go in, but Cotton stayed in position, grabbing her own miss and repeated the process.
The second time was the charm as the shot dropped through the hoop for Cotton’s 3,001st career point. The game was halted briefly as her feat was announced to the crowd. Cotton was hugged by her teammates, as well as East Jessamine’s own Emma Young, who played summer ball with Cotton and with whom she shared a friendly rivalry.
With the score Cotton became the first Lady Raider, and only the third player from McCreary County, to reach the 3,000-point plateau.
Aaron Watts hit the mark in 2010 for the Raiders, and Tim Stephens, playing for McCreary County High School from 1973-76, finished with 3,211 career points.
At the start of the season, with 2,672 points under her belt, there was some doubt Cotton would be able to reach the mark.
Offseason knee surgery sidelined her for the first 8 games, meaning she would need to average more than 18 points per game over the final two months of the schedule to reach her goal.
That proved not to be an issue as Cotton picked up right where she left off, averaging 28.4 points per game this season, second in the state to Jenkins’ Whitney Creech.
Cotton started her run to 3,000 on December 3, 2009 against Whitley County. The then 7th grader scored 11 points in her Varsity debut and never slowed down.
In her first year she averaged just 10.3 points per game, but she was playing with – and against – much older and more experienced players.
In her 8th grade year she upped her points per game average to 13.2, but it wasn’t until her Freshman year, in the 2012-13 season when she started to hit her stride. Playing in all 32 games Cotton scored 593 points and set her first career benchmark – hitting 1,000 points on January 31 in a game against North Laurel.
She hit 2,000 less than two years later – December 18, 2014 against Campbellsville. On December 29th of that same year she eclipsed Lindsey Waters as the Lady Raiders’ all-time leading scorer.