For a high school basketball player, scoring 1,000 points in a career is considered a major milestone.
Getting 1,000 rebounds in a career, though, is a far rarer feat.
On Dec. 22, Whiteland senior center Mackenzie Blazek joined the latter club, grabbing her 1,000th board in the second quarter of a game against New Palestine.
She is believed to be just the 16th girl in state history with that many rebounds and the 15th member of the 1,000-point/1,000-rebound club.
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Those closest to Blazek had been eagerly anticipating the achievement.
“My mom — it’s so funny; we have it on film — when I got my 1,000th board, she came down with a poster and was running around,” Blazek recalled. “It was really fun, especially for my family.”
For the University of Illinois recruit, though, such individual accolades aren’t the most important thing; Blazek was more excited about the fact that the Warriors won that day.
“I’m just trying to win a lot of games,” she said, “and then that just came along with it, which was good.”
Winning has been what motivated Blazek from the moment she arrived at Whiteland as a freshman, joining a team that had won just one game the previous season.
The Warriors notched nine victories during her rookie campaign and upped that total to 14 two years ago. Now, the program’s lone senior has her team on track to challenge the school’s single-season record of 18 wins, established in 2010-11.
“We’re just trying to build the team up to get where we’re winning games and we’re playing for championships,” Blazek said. “We want to just be able to have a program that hangs up banners and cuts down nets.”
The first of those banners could be locked up as soon as next week. Whiteland controls its own destiny in the Mid-State Conference race and can lock up at least a share of the league title by beating Franklin on Saturday.
That the program has enjoyed this sort of ascent over the last four years shouldn’t come as a surprise. Much like Shaquille O’Neal was a game-altering presence in his prime, the 6-foot-3 Blazek forces everyone in the gym to account for her.
Opposing coaches make no secret of the fact that they base their defensive game plans around limiting Blazek — but few have succeeded. She’s a dominating force at both ends of the court, as evidenced by her stat line (18.7 points, 14.6 rebounds, 4.0 blocks per game).
Whiteland coach Kyle Shipp, not surprisingly, looks to use that to his advantage whenever he can.
“We obviously try to get her as involved as possible, try to work through her in all aspects, offensively and defensively,” he said. “All of our schemes are basically designed around her and her skill set, and hopefully having all of the other players play off of that.”
Blazek has become accustomed to being double- and triple-teamed, and as a result she’s honed her passing skills over the years. She has increased her assist total each season, and she currently ranks second on the Warriors in that category.
“She has to lead the state among centers in assists,” Shipp said.
Before mentioning anything that Blazek has accomplished statistically, though, Shipp points to the legacy that she will leave behind as an overall ambassador for the Whiteland program.
Whether it’s coaching in the town’s feeder program or serving as a role model for teammates and younger players, Blazek has become the face of Whiteland girls basketball, and the program has flourished as a result.
“That’s what I’m really proud about,” Shipp said.
Her numbers are pretty impressive too, though. With at least five games remaining in her career starting Jan. 18 at Shelbyville, Blazek is within reach of some truly rare goals.
She is seventh on the state’s all-time list in rebounding (on pace to end up fifth), and she has a chance to end up with more than 1,500 points, 1,200 boards and 300 blocked shots. (While record-keeping for blocks is spotty at best, it’s possible that Blazek would be the first girl in Indiana history to hit that trifecta.)
Blazek would still prefer championships to any of that, but she’s not brushing off the historical significance of her accomplishments.
“It’s pretty cool,” she said.
Mackenzie Blazek joined some elite company this season when she grabbed her 1,000th career rebound. A list of the 15 known players with both 1,000 boards and 1,000 points:
Shyra Ely;Ben Davis;2001;1,218;2,004
Tori Schickel;Evansville Mater Dei;2015;1,156;1,965
Jacqueline Batteast;South Bend Washington;2001;1,086;1,635
Ally Lehman;Indian Creek;2013;1,076;1,928
Ruth Riley;North Miami;1993;1,011;1,372
NOTE: Normela Upshaw (East Chicago Roosevelt, 1979) is credited with 1,227 career rebounds, but her scoring total could not be confirmed by press time.