Four years ago, then-Downingtown East senior basketball star Kristen Blye looked up into the stands, saw Philadelphia University womens’ coach Tom Shirley watching her play, then scored her 1000th high school point. Saturday afternoon, Blye – now a senior co-captain for the Lady Rams – looked to the sideline, saw Shirley, then scored her 1000th college point. The only difference was this time, Shirley stayed until the end and caught the milestone basket.
After seeing enough of the six-foot power forward to know he wanted her on his team, Shirley left the high school gym early, not finding out until later that Blye had surpassed the historic scoring mark.
“I didn’t tell him [that I was getting close], that was my fault,” said Blye, who became Philadelphia University’s 28th female 1,000-point scorer late in Philadelphia University’s 69-63 loss at Bloomfield College. “But looking back on my high school career, scoring 1,000 points is a day I’ll never forget. After accomplishing that, it was a goal of mine moving forward here and definitely something I set out to do at the next level.”
Strong work ethic mixed with talent and drive
Setting specific goals and working towards them has long been a staple of the West Chester native’s game, and when that work ethic is combined with her talent, it’s not hard to see how she’s become so successful.
“To not only set a goal, but be able to reach that goal is difficult, and Kristen will always be able to say that she did that, both in high school and college,” said Shirley, who has coached 21 members of the 1000-point club since coming to the school, then still known as Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, in 1989. “She got this honor because she worked for it, and she deserves it.”
Bob Schnure, the legendary girls’ basketball coach at Downingtown East, echoed Shirley’s sentiments about his former player’s drive.
“You never had to motivate her to play her best and play her hardest,” said Schnure. “She naturally gave it everything she had in each practice and game.”
A memorable assist
That kind of dedication and passion shines through in Blye’s love to learn, both in the classroom – where she sports a 3.95 GPA while double-majoring in accounting and finance – and on the court, following the trail blazed by Lady Rams before her.
“Being part of a reputable program is a great experience, and I was fortunate to have some great players ahead of me” said Blye. “I grew so much as a player playing against the best, as well as seeing their work ethic and how they led the team. You look up to them when they are the leaders, so when you grow into that role, you already know what your responsibilities are.”
The defensive attention demanded by fellow 1,000-point scorer Christine Wooding, last season’s Central Athletic Collegiate Conference player of the year, created ample scoring opportunities for Blye early in her Phila U. career. So did developing a rapport with point guard Megan Finn, who delivered the assist on Blye’s historic bucket.
“It made the moment even more special because she’s my best friend,” said Blye of Finn. “We were freshman roommates and have done everything together since, so it was only fitting that she was such a crucial part of my 1000th point.”
One final goal at Phila U.
Despite Wednesday’s overtime loss to conference leader Holy Family, the Lady Rams still sit comfortably in the conference playoff picture, and nothing would cap Blye’s stellar career more perfectly than a deep postseason run.
“It’s my senior year, and I still haven’t won a playoff game. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that’s not still the case at the end of the season,” says Blye. The program’s last title came in 2009, the year before Shirley’s prized recruit made East Falls her home.
Blye added, “I want to win a CACC championship more than anything. I hope that after this season, I can say that’s the game I’ll never forget.”
If she reaches that one final goal, count on Tom Shirley staying glued to his seat this time.