At first, Garland Austin didn’t understand why there was such a commotion on the court.
Moments after Austin sank the first of her two free throws on Jan. 20, Charlotte Latin girls basketball coach Deb Savino called a timeout, and Austin began to head toward the Hawks’ huddle.
Only this was no ordinary game break.
Savino had called timeout because Austin, a Charlotte Latin senior guard, had just scored the 1,000th point of her career. But Austin had no idea she even was close to reaching the milestone.
“I honestly didn’t know,” Austin said, recalling the moment with a laugh. “My mind was just on the game (a victory over Asheville School), and I was trying to focus on turning things around after a tough week against (Providence Day) and (Charlotte) Christian.
“It really turned out to be a special night for me.”
Austin scored her 1,000th point on a free throw, but it hardly was the only thing that made her night memorable.
For the game, she went a scorching 8-for-8 from beyond the 3-point arc. She also scored a career-high 34 points. Entering the contest, she needed 28 points reach 1,000.
“To reach my career high and score my 1,000th point on the same night is just an awesome feeling,” Austin said. “And going 8-for-8 (on 3-pointers) was surprising, too. Just the day before at Charlotte Christian, I probably went 0-for-8. It was just good to finally see some (3-pointers) finally go down.”
But scoring points is nothing new for Austin, who leads the Hawks with an average of 16.3 points per game this season. She’s also familiar with being a deadly 3-point shooter. In fact, several years ago, while competing at a national AAU tournament in Minnesota, Austin out-dueled 127 competitors to win the 3-point shooting contest by making 19 shots in 60 seconds.
Austin, however, isn’t a selfish player, as her average of 4.3 assists per game attests.
Folks throughout the Charlotte Independent Schools Athletic Association also know Austin as a star softball pitcher. Many believe she is good enough to play that sport in college, but Austin, a National Merit Scholar, doesn’t plan on playing any sports in college.
“I have more academic passions,” said Austin, who carries a 4.42 GPA. “I want to go pre-med and be involved in a lot of other things in college. I love sports, but I’m ready to take the next step in my life.”
But on Jan. 20, her athletic abilities took center stage – even though she didn’t expect the basketball game to stop after making a single free throw.
Savino and Austin’s Charlotte Latin teammates came over and congratulated her with hugs. Her parents, Wade and Lilla, beamed. Her paternal grandparents, Richard and Judy Austin, and her maternal grandfather, Scott Smith, were just as proud as the crowd heaped applause on the newest member of the school’s 1,000-point club.
“It was great because I got to go give the ball to my family,” Austin said. “We got to share that experience.
“But then I had to refocus and go try to make that second free throw.”
Which she did.
A team victory. A single-game high in points. A career scoring accomplishment. All eight 3-pointers swishing through the nets. And those two free throws.
On this night, pretty much everything was perfect for Garland Austin.