Scoring title looms large for Hinderliter

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The ball is inbounded, after a quick score by the opponent, and brought down the court before being passed to a 5’9” player in the post, who then sinks a stepback shot over two defenders. That player is Brooke Hinderliter and chances are if Slippery Rock has won a game, Hinderliter has hit this shot a few times. Every single shot made from there has helped chip away at the all-time scoring record, to the point where she is now 34 points away from breaking it.

“It’s exciting [being so close to the scoring record], it’s something that I’ve worked really hard for, to reach a milestone like this,” Hinderliter said.

This won’t be the first milestone that Hinderliter has hit, though, as she broke the all-time free throws made record earlier in the season against Clarion at home when she got to the line eight times and made 13 of her 15 free throws. The record was previously held by Heather Kearney, who also owns the all-time scoring record. This season, Hinderliter has already attempted 196 free throws and made 163 and in all likelihood, by the time the season is over, she’ll have over 200 attempts.

Last season was Hinderliter’s first in the role of primary scorer, and in her second season in the role she has flourished. Through 27 games she has 526 points and has attempted 428 shots, at this point last season she had 488 points and had attempted 423 shots.

“I don’t want this season to be over, because I don’t want basketball to end, obviously, and my team deserves [to be in the playoffs], we’ve fought hard. I know that we started out rough in the beginning but we’re a good team and we deserve to be there,” Hinderliter said.

At this moment there can’t be a discussion about the scoring record without also talking about The Rock’s chances to make the playoffs. Currently The Rock is one game behind Seton Hill and Mercyhurst for the final spot, sitting at 6-15 in conference play. In order for The Rock to sneak in, Seton Hill must lose their final game and The Rock has to win in a winner-take-all game against Mercyhurst. Currently both teams are on a four-game losing skid, and The Rock plays Mercyhurst in their season finale.

“At this point in the season right now and if you look at our box scores, we need Brooke to put up these types of numbers to win these two games and to make a conference playoff run,” Coach Bobby McGraw said. “We need her to score 29 or 30, it hasn’t been like that every night but with some people missing we need her to get those types of numbers to win.”

Hinderliter has played under Coach McGraw for the past four years and started all but one game in her time here under him. She’s the leader in games started in program history with 110. Against Edinboro, Hinderliter tied Beth Dansberger for the most consecutive starts with her 101st straight start and on Saturday she will break the record with her 102nd start in a row.

“She is one of the top players to ever walk through this field house, put on that jersey, and play in this program. She is a first-ballot hall of famer and there is no question about that,” Coach McGraw said. “She is one of the three best players that I’ve ever coached and I don’t see that changing in the next ten years or even by the time I hang it up.”

Hinderliter has the resume to make her case to be a first ballot hall of famer, but another staggering figure is the amount of minutes she’s played in her career. Currently she is fourth in program history with over 3,200 minutes played over her four year career and should Edinboro  defeat Seton Hill and Slippery Rock defeat Mercyhurst on Saturday, Hinderliter will make her return to the postseason.

“[We prioritize] the postseason over Brooke getting the record and she knows that and it’s what she wants. She has a chance to leave here with two postseason bids in her four years here, which hasn’t been done in like 25 years,” Coach McGraw said.

In the only postseason game of her career, Hinderliter scored 20 points in an 11-point loss to Cal U. Should The Rock get back they may once again play Cal U, a team that Hinderliter has scored at least 20 points against three times in her career. That includes a 27-point effort against the #10 Vulcan’s last season in a 72-61 win. That was the first time The Rock had beaten Cal U since the 2001-2002 season.

For the past few years, Coach McGraw has repeated the phrase “we go as Brooke Hinderliter goes” over and over again. And Brooke has backed this, scoring 20 points or more 29 times throughout her career. And games where she’s scored at 20 points that has been a big difference as The Rock is 14-15 in those 29 games.

As for the pressure of trying to get the scoring record and still get the team to the playoffs, Hinderliter feels she’s used to it.

“I’ve been dealing with pressure for my life and I’ve always had that on my shoulders, so I just take it game by game and I’m calm about it because I’ve had it for so long,” Hinderliter explained.

The ideal situation is for things to go The Rock’s way and for Hinderliter to get at least one more game to get the record, but as it is, Mercyhurst is Hinderliter’s last game in Morrow Field House and she needs 34 points. Brooke’s current career high is 33 points, so after scoring 25 against Edinboro she gave herself a realistic shot to both get the record and get her team into the PSAC tournament.

To Coach McGraw, Hinderliter is one of those special players that there is no substitute for and the program will feel her absence in the future.

“Brooke’s not one of those players you can replace. [Coaching her] has meant everything to me,” Coach McGraw said very emotionally. “She’s meant the world to program these past four years and she’ll be dearly missed.”

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