Mount Pulaski girls basketball celebrates Senior Night

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[January 30, 2018] 

Three seniors were honored Monday night at Mount Pulaski High School as they played their last game at the Ed Butkovich Gymnasium.

Mount Pulaski seniors Shelby Bailey, Emily Wakeman and Fikirte Mott were honored just before the game with Williamsville at the Ed Butkovich Gymnasium. 

Wakeman, Mott and Bailey pose with family before tip-off of the Mount Pulaski - Williamsville game

Emily Wakeman, Shelby Bailey and Fikirte Mott were introduced to the crowd along with their parents just ahead of the tip-off of the Varsity game. A huge crowd turned out to support the three seniors.

A group of firemen were also in attendance to stand and show their support for Emily Wakeman. Wakeman’s father, Micah, was killed last summer in a farming accident.

While the girls made many memories on and off the court together as friends, this game with Williamsville probably won’t make the highlight reel for these ladies. But for one Williamsville player, the memories this night will last a lifetime.

Even though the Lady Hilltoppers played a strong first half with the Bullets, Williamsville pulled away in the second half and won easily 62-39.

There was special buzz in the gym though as the Sports 1450 cameraman made his first visit to Mount Pulaski for the year and while he was there to check out Skylar Hayes and the Lady Hilltoppers, the crowd quickly learned that Williamsville senior Olivia Felts, a standout athlete in softball and basketball, was approaching 1,000 career points. She needed just 17 points on this night to reach the milestone. The scorer’s table was keeping close tabs and the anticipation was building with every Bullets’ possession.

With Williamsville in the lead 12-7 after one quarter of play, Felts had tossed in five points.

The Lady Hilltoppers came out strong in the second quarter and made a run at the Bullets. Skylar Hayes’ nice assist to Morgan May under the basket was just the start. A foul on Maggie Zibutis a minute later would put Hayes to the line and she sank both free throws to pull Mount Pulaski closer.

On the next Mount Pulaski possession, Isabella Wade banked one in to give the Lady Hilltoppers a 13-12 lead.

Williamsville quickly regained the lead, but then Wade hit another bank shot to put Mount Pulaski up 16-14. “I think she called bank on that one,” joked Marty Spear, who is in charge of keeping the game clock.

Felts took over next for the Bullets. She tossed in a total of seven consecutive points for the visitors dressed in gold and put her team in the lead for good.

This is how those buckets went down for Felts: first three free throws, followed by a bank shot, then a baseline swish. Now she was just five points away from 1,000.

Mount Pulaski kept battling and Hayes hit a long three at the 1:56 mark to pull the Hilltoppers within reach, 23-21 the score.

Another basket by Felts at the 1:33 mark put the Bullets up 25-21. Three points away for Felts.

Felts would get the ball again with less than a minute left before halftime, this time wanting the ball under the basket. Her teammate complied and passed it into the lane to the senior. Felts’ long arm grabbed the ball from the air and she turned and tossed in two more points. This bucket was good for 999 career points.

But with 50.5 seconds showing on the clock she was fouled on that basket and went to the line. A deep breath and a swish at the net and an eruption of applause heard in the gym. She had reached 1,000 career points on that free throw.

Olivia Felts (32) is all smiles (along with her happy teammates) and a bit relieved after hitting a free throw for her 1,000 career point versus Mount Pulaski at the Ed Butkovich Gymnasium. 

The Williamsville coach called timeout and the announcer for the evening, Garrett LeVault, made special mention of Felts’ achievement. The tall senior was congratulated by teammates as everyone in the gym was happy to witness this special moment. "This was something on her bucket list,” noted family, following the game.

Williamsville would take a 28-21 lead into the locker room.

The Bullets came out firing in the third quarter and ran the lead up to 37-23 at one point. A steal by Mott of Mount Pulaski ignited the Hilltopper crowd and the senior was fouled on the layup but hit the two free throws.

But then the momentum was back to Felts and company. A bank shot and a swish by the Bullet extended the lead back to 41-27. No matter how hard Mount Pulaski tried to crawl back in this one, Felts was on fire in the gym. She hit another basket in the lane before the third quarter ended and the Bullets were in control 44-31.

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The fourth quarter was more of the same. All Bullets.

Felts would hit one more basket in the game and finish with 25 points.

Skylar Hayes, playing with a face protector on because of a broken nose, would toss in a quiet 16 points to lead Mount Pulaski.

The final score in this one was 62-39 Bullets.

Williamsville’s record also improved to an impressive 20-6 on the season.

Mount Pulaski falls to 13-11 on the season.

Senior Shelby Bailey gets taken the ground while battling Olivia Felts for the ball on Senior Night.

Senior Fikirte Mott on the drive during Senior Night versus Williamsville. Mott finished with seven points in the game.

Senior Emily Wakeman waits for the ball on the inbounds. Wakeman had extra support in the crowd with family, friends and firefighters all in attendance for the senior.

Teammates and coaches congratulate the three seniors as they come off the court at Mount Pulaski High School on Senior Night.

Varsity scores by quarter:

Mount Pulaski 7 21 31 39
Williamsville 12 30 44 62

Mount Pulaski (39)

Hayes 16
Moore 7
Mott 7
Wade 5
May 4

Williamsville (62)

Felts 25
McCormick 13
Hergert 10
Walbert 8
Zibutis 4
Phillips 2

The Bullets JV team defeated Mount Pulaski 44-30 in the earlier contest.

JV scores by quarter:

Mount Pulaski 5 10 22 30
Williamsville 11 21 32 44

Mount Pulaski (30)

Wilham 5
Eskew 5
Lowe 4
Olson 4
Cooper 3
Wade 3
Kirk 2
Davis 2
Kuhlman 2

Williamsville (44)

Woods 16
Henrickson 11
Rapp 9
Bartlett 3
Phillips 2
Watson 2
Landmark 1

[Teena Lowery]

It’s a small world.

After the game Olivia Felts’ grandparents were in the gym looking for a program from the game for a keepsake when the grandfather said, “We knew Bill Rucks. We used to run Fire and Ale in Sherman and Bill Rucks would come in and get a table in the back.”

They were obviously elated at their granddaughter’s achievement and one could sense the memory of her reaching the milestone in Mount Pulaski was special. Kind of like the next best thing to achieving it on her home court. After all the gym is decorated in a familiar purple and gold.

By all accounts, Felts is an outstanding athlete on the softball field and the basketball court. But following the game, many said, “She’s even a better person. She’s just a great girl.”

Congratulations to Olivia Felts. She made a special memory for all of us in the gym.


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