GROTON -- Something magical happened inside the Lady Crusaders' gym on Monday, Feb. 18. It was not a huge win for the Groton-Dunstable's girls' basketball team, or even a win at all, but it was a special moment for Rachel McCarron and the program.
McCarron netted her 1,000th point at the free-throw line early in the first quarter, but what happened following the momentous occasion was something straight out of a sports movie.
McCarron's teammates mobbed her like they had just won the state finals, but in actuality there was still plenty of time left in the game. When you step on the floor, you never know who is watching. Usually it is friends and family, but that special Monday it was a local politician.
All the Lady Crusaders had the numerals "1,000" penned in magic marker on their biceps, and that moment really touched Groton Selectman Jack Petropoulous.
"I went to the game where the 1,000th point was scored," said Petropoulous. "I saw in the stands before the point was scored there were people with signs that read "1,000," and that alone impressed me. The girls mobbing Rachel, you just don't see that happen. That said so much to me about the team that was created."
Petropolous was so impressed with the showing of camaraderie by the girls that he dedicated the day of March 15, 2013, as Groton-Dunstable Girls' Basketball Day.
The day recognized the service, dedication and sacrifices the girls made for the community during the season. Groton-Dunstable narrowly missed a trip to the district tournament with an 8-11 regular season record, but their mark on their community will never be forgotten.
Each player, coach and manager was presented with an emblazoned document that officially recognized the ceremonious day with each player's name.
"I recounted to the girls how I played sports as a kid and learned the value of a team," said Petropoulous. "What I learned when I was a kid gave me an appreciation of what I saw here."
Winning was not the paramount goal for the Lady Crusaders, according to head coach Mark Hennelly, it was about McCarron's milestone.
"Second to winning this year, the most important thing to the team was getting Rachel her 1,000th point," said Hennelly. "It was a goal starting at the beginning of the season. They were all driven from top to bottom to get her to that 1,000th point."
The gymnasium was rocking, and signs were hoisted all over the wooden bleachers to congratulate McCarron when the point finally swished through the cylinder.
"That night was one of the largest crowds I have ever seen inside that gymnasium," said Hennelly. "I have coached four teams who have gone to the CMass. Finals, and I have never seen a crowd like that, both in size and enthusiasm."
McCarron will continue her basketball career at UMass Lowell, but Hennelly believes that her lasting impact on Groton-Dunstable High School will be felt for years to come.
"The night spoke to the captains, and the tremendous person Rachel is," said Hennelly. "The only disappointing thing about the season is that we didn't make the playoffs. I wouldn't change anything about this season for the world."
Members of the 2012-2013 Groton-Dunstable girls' basketball day team are: Celina Antonellis, Kim Contonio, Val Lutkevich, Jamie Park, Cate Cullen (capt.), Lindsey Werner (Mid-Wach B all-star), Alex Pray, Ariana Lacombe, Leanne Mueller, Riley Rogers (capt.), Melyssa Langell and McCarron.
Team managers are: Brittany Belanger, Elena Biasi, Meaghan Freiter and Rebecca Romich. Hennelly and his assistants, Lisa LaPierre and Jon Conlon.