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Fitzpatrick sets record; Middletown senior passes Burton-Jones on girls career points list

By Jason Maddux

jasonmaddux@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 2/11/20

Coming into the season, it appeared very likely that Kate Fitzpatrick would break the Middletown girls career scoring record.

She had 1,251 points entering her senior season, and she scored 461 …

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Fitzpatrick sets record; Middletown senior passes Burton-Jones on girls career points list

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Coming into the season, it appeared very likely that Kate Fitzpatrick would break the Middletown girls career scoring record.

She had 1,251 points entering her senior season, and she scored 461 points as a junior, so a similar performance in her final year would easily get her the record.

But then she missed a few games with injuries. As it turns out, it took until the last game of the season for her to reach the scoring mark.

In the first quarter at Milton Hershey on Feb. 4, Fitzpatrick made a free throw to register her 1,587th point, passing 2016 graduate Ja’Lynn Burton-Jones. She ended up with 32 points total to lead Middletown to a 49-31 win. That included eight 3-pointers, a career best.

What made it even more special for Fitzpatrick is that Burton-Jones, now a standout at Central Penn College, was in attendance, “which meant everything to me.”

“I have looked up to her for many years. She has always helped guide me and motivate me over the years. When I was younger, she always took me in as if I were part of the high school team even though I was only in seventh grade at the time. Her and I will always have a connection, and I’m proud to call her my friend. I have to be honest their were many others on her team that always were so kind to me and always pushed me to make me a better basketball player, like Jey Rivera and Halle Marion,” she told the Press & Journal in an email.

Fitzpatrick now sits at the top of the scoring list with 1,614 points. She also totaled 420 rebounds, 203 assists, 251 steals and140 3-pointers in her career.

She will play softball for the Blue Raiders this spring before heading to Millersville University, to play both sports.

“I was feeling positive going into the game that night,” she said. “I’ve been playing through some pain this season, so I just said a prayer and let the game happen the way it was supposed to. When I got to the foul line, I just cleared my mind and shot the ball. I was excited and relieved when the second one went in, but I was more thrilled to celebrate the moment with my teammates who have cheered me on and supported me this entire season. One person can’t do it alone, and they were always there to keep pushing me, which I’m so grateful for.”

It was a tough season for the Blue Raiders, beset with a number of injuries to starters. They finished 5-16. Their last game was supposed to be Friday at Lower Dauphin, a double-header with the boys team, but the games were canceled to the death of a senior student at LD.

That the team didn’t do better was a disappointment for Fitzpatrick, a four-year starter and three-year captain.

“Coming into the season, it wasn’t only the record on my mind,” she said. “The record was a bonus. I was so excited because our team looked so good, we were practicing and playing well and I thought we were going to make a run for playoffs. We really became a family this season on and off the court. I love each and everyone of my teammates, and I’m going to miss them very much. Unfortunately, injuries happened to so many of us at once and things changed for our team.”

Middletown head coach Robert Pelletier said he was proud of Fitzpatrick.

“Because she put so much pressure on herself for it, I’m glad she finally got it,” he said.

He said he hopes her effect on the team will go past this season.

“The kids would see how hard she worked. That’s the biggest thing. Basketball is a game where you need to be skilled. She worked so hard in the offseason, I hope the takeaway for the other girls is that hard work pays off,” he said.

The injuries for the entire team were tough this season, he said, but they are part of the sport.

“We got a lot of our younger girls experience that they probably wouldn’t have gotten if not for the injuries,” he said. “They got more confidence, which is really what they needed. Our biggest problem all year was that we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.”

“When it comes down to it, that’s the only thing that counts,” he added.

No matter what happened during the season, the team always played hard, never gave up, always tried to get better and always hustled, he said.

“Our girls understand that it’s really important what they do from now to the beginning of next season. We have some girls that really want to work hard and get better,” he said.

Fitzpatrick said she is sad to have her season and career end, but she is grateful for all the opportunities and memories.

“Some of my best memories are going to states my freshman year, which was absolutely amazing, hitting back-to-back buzzer beaters and making ESPN my sophomore season, hitting 1,000 points my junior year and this year being nominated as a McDonald’s All-American, senior night and breaking the record,” she said. “There are so many amazing lifelong friendships this game as given me and I feel so blessed. I want to thank all my coaches over the years for always pushing me and believing in me. I also want to thank my family for their unwavering support and sacrifices to help me make my dreams come true. I love them all so much.”

“For all the Raider fans that cheered me on for the past four years, there are no words for the gratitude I feel,” she said. “Lastly, to all of my teammates the last four years, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for always having my back and believing in me. We will all be sisters forever.”

Against Milton Hershey, Makayla Claggett added 2 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal, and Amanda Lee had 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals. Jordyn Dupes added 3 points and 3 rebounds, and Nakia Scott scored 7 points with 4 rebounds and 2 steals. Tamia Hill-Johnson registered 2 points and 4 rebounds.