DEMAREST, N.J. — The three-point shot hasn't always come easy to Academy of the Holy Angels varsity athlete Elena Pulanco. But the senior hit her 1,000th high school career point with a three last month, against Old Tappan in the Joe Poli Holiday Tournament.
The shot temporarily halted the first quarter while those present at the game, hosted by Pascack Valley High School, recognized her achievement.
It was the final game of the year.
"When I hit my first three-pointer and I heard the announcer acknowledge my 1,000 point milestone, it actually felt like a surprise," Pulanco of Englewood said.
"It meant a lot to me that I reached it on a three-point shot because it’s something I’ve had to work on and develop through the years."
The well-matched teams took the game into overtime, when AHA was edged 50-47 -- but the final score was hardly the top story for AHA.
Pulanco scored 29 points, including 21 from three-point range.
“Going into my last game of 2017, I knew I was close to hitting my 1,000th point, but I never focus on counting points in a game,” the athlete said.
“When the game clock starts, I just concentrate on what’s happening on the court and what I need to do, one possession at a time. I know if I do a good job at that, then the points will come eventually."
Pulanco has been a varsity starter for AHA since her freshman year. She has been named Most Valuable Player and is her team’s leading scorer. She was part of AHA Coach Susan Liddy's 700th win, and helped Holy Angels earn the league title last season.
She has also distinguished herself by being named First Team All-County and becoming a state finalist.
Pulanco won the GymRat Challenge Platiunum Division as a club basketball player with Hudson Valley Elite. She has been named a three-time All-Tournament selection in the GymRat Challenge and a three-time All Star selection at the Nike Nationals.
Pulanco constantly challenges herself by playing against strong competitors and training with D.J. Sackmann.
“Elena is an extremely talented player who is a true leader both on and off the court," AHA Athletic Director Patti Gorsuch said. "She is our go-to player in every situation."
This fall, Pulanco will attend Wofford College on a full scholarship. She will play Division 1 basketball as she works toward a degree in sociology and anthropology with a minor in studio art.
"It felt bittersweet to know it was my last time playing at this tournament, but I honestly couldn’t ask for a more memorable and graceful way to exit," she said.
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