It had all the ingredients of an epic athletic showdown: A pair of the area’s top basketball players, friends and summer league teammates since fifth grade, battling for a record that had stood for over a decade, with the outcome hanging in the balance until the final game of the season.
There was only one slight problem, the winner didn’t even know she was in the race.
Amherst’s Morgan Dziak is Lorain County’s new top single-season 3-point shooter with 61 3-pointers. She surpassed the previous record of 56 that was set by Columbia’s Jamie Krivak in 1997 and tied two years ago by North Ridegville’s Ashley Montgomery.
“I had no idea until I was listening to (WEOL-930 AM radio sportscaster) Jim Allen and he said something about it,” Dziak said. “Then I was like, ‘Oh! Hey that’s pretty cool’ I didn’t even know what the record was and when I found out about it I had already broken it.”
However, when Allen announced Dziak’s final numbers on March 1, two days after the Comets had been eliminated by Elyria in the Division I district semifinals, he credited Morgan with 58
3-pointers as Amherst had omitted one game from its stat sheet.
Later that night, Elyria Catholic’s Brittney McNamara hit three 3-pointers in the Panthers season-ending loss to Mogadore, giving her 59
3-pointers for the season, leading many to believe she was actually the new record holder. But a final review of both teams’ numbers verified that Dziak was indeed Lorain County’s 3-point queen. Dziak hit her 57th 3-pointer against Lorain and then hit four more in her final game.
Instead of being disappointed, McNamara was happy for her friend when she realized it was Dziak and not her that held the new record.
“I was so proud of Morgan when I found out she broke the record,” McNamara said. “I loved that was her that broke it and not anyone else. I mean, she has been my friend and teammate since fifth grade. I would rather see her have the record than some random person.”
Both players took a different route to surpassing the magic number of 56. Brittney had 30 3-pointers in Elyria Catholic’s first nine games, including a Lorain County record eight in a December game against Lutheran West.
Dziak needed a late-season surge, making only 12 3-pointers in her first eight games, but coming on strong in the month of February with 31 threes in her final eight games. Twice this season, in a January non-league game against Bay and in the sectional finals against Lorain, she hit six 3-pointers in a single game.
“My confidence level went up as the season went on, Dziak said. “I started to make a couple and then I felt like I could do more. I’m kind of glad I didn’t know about the record because I probably would have been thinking about it on the court. This way it was a nice surprise, like we beat Lorain and I broke the record, ‘OK, that was a good day.’”
With improved coaching and training programs and increased opportunities for year-round play, McNamara realizes it’s only a matter of time before another player surpasses both of their marks.
“I hope nobody breaks our records for a few years, but girls are starting to realize what it takes to be good shooters and practicing more and playing more summer ball,” she said. “So it’s only a matter of time.”
Both girls will be firing up 3-pointers at the college level next season. Dziak, who is also a 4.0 student, has narrowed her choices to Case Western Reserve University and Carnegie Mellon, while McNamara earned a scholarship to play at Division II Chestnut Hill.
Seeing that the girls both practiced in the summer shooting 3-pointers from the NBA distance of 23 feet, nine inches, the adjustment to the NCAA 3-point line of 20 feet, 9 inches, one foot longer than in high school, should not pose a problem.
“I guess I have to scoot back in the front yard now,” Dzaik said. “Instead of drawing my line on the concrete, I am going to be shooting from the grass.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.