Saniha Jackson didn’t know that scoring 1,000 career points was a goal basketball players had when she first started playing at River Hill.
It wasn’t until Jaden Martin scored his 1,000th point as a boys basketball player at River Hill in the 2017-18 season that Jackson learned of the feat — and she realized she had a chance to get there, too.
“My freshman and sophomore year I didn’t even know that was a goal," Jackson said. “I was just playing. I didn’t really know what I was doing. Somebody on the boys team got their 1,000th point, and I thought it would be cool for me to do that, too. That motivated me to work harder and become a better scorer.”
On Monday, Jackson achieved the difficult feat, scoring her 1,000th career point in the first quarter the River Hill’s 55-28 win over Atholton in the MPSSAA 3A East Region II semifinals. Jackson is the 84th player in Howard County history and the eighth player in River Hill girls basketball history to enter the 1,000-point club.
“I didn’t know how many I needed to score going into the game,” Jackson said. “I was playing like a normal game. Then when the game stopped I was happy and excited, but I had to refocus because it was a playoff game.”
Jackson needed five points entering the game, and she didn’t wait long to score No. 1,000. She scored six points in the first quarter, including a layup six minutes in that put her over 1,000 points. Following the basket, the referees stopped the game, as Jackson celebrated briefly with her teammates and family.
“I was excited for her. The team was all excited,” said River Hill head coach Teresa Waters. “Saniha is pretty humble. She told me before the game that she wanted the game to go on after she scored it. I appreciated what she was saying, but I told her we were going to stop the game and acknowledge her accomplishment. It’s a big achievement.”
Jackson scored 115 points as a freshman, 176 points as a sophomore and 333 points as a junior. This season, however, Jackson has taken her game to the next level. She’s averaging 16.6 points per game this year, which is tops for the Hawks and is fourth in the county.
“As a freshman, I wasn’t an offensive player,” Jackson said. “I was more of a rebounder and a hustle player. But as my career has gone on I’ve become more of an offensive and defensive player.”
Waters said over the years she’s seen Jackson develop into the best post player in the county. Jackson has improved her post moves this season and her free-throw shooting, which Waters said is a testament to her hard work.
“I’ve seen her grow by leaps and bounds,” Waters said. “She’s really honed her skills, and she’s embraced that position in the post. She’s been eager to learn. ... She’s a great kid. She works hard every day. She doesn’t take days off. I’m very fortunate to be her coach.”
This season has been historic for a few Howard County girls basketball players, as three of the league’s other top players have scored their 1,000th career point as well. Mt. Hebron’s Tori Valentine, Reservoir’s Tiffany Hooker and Oakland Mills’ Jazmine Washington all accomplished the feat earlier this season.
“I think it’s pretty great. We have a lot of talent in our class and in our county," Jackson said. "It’s cool to be a part of it.
Also in the blowout win over Atholton, Kennedy Clark led the Hawks with a season-high 21 points. The senior point guard made five 3-pointers to lead River Hill (19-4) to the 3A East Region II semifinal win. She scored 13 of River Hill’s 18 points in the second quarter to give the Hawks a 33-11 lead at halftime.
The top-seeded Hawks, which won the 2A state title last season, will play No. 2 Reservoir, which defeated Oakland Mills in the semis, in the region championship on Wednesday. River Hill defeated Reservoir, 54-44, in their only matchup in the regular season.
“We all played pretty well (against Atholton), and we played together,” Jackson said. “When we play together, it’s more fun and we play better. ... We need to keep up on defense and communicating. That’s the key for us.”
River Hill 55, Atholton 28
RH (19-4): K. Clark 21, S. Jackson 11, C. Duffy 10, A. Smith 8, A. Thompson 2, E. Devine 2, A. McCullough 1.
A (7-15): N. Blair 11, L. Cowsette 4, M. Hargrett 4, K. Brown 3, G. Jackson 2, T. Kidd 2, M. McCabe 2.
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Halftime: 33-11, RH