By Jordan J. Michael
BERNE –– Liz Harvey has positive attitude, wit, drive, kindness, strength, humility, and the will to be the best. Some of these characteristics have nothing to do with her brilliant basketball ability, but, in a way, they do.
She loves basketball and loves her Berne-Knox-Westerlo teammates. Harvey strives to win. Always.
So, when Harvey surpassed the 1,000-point career mark as a junior last year, it was only a matter of time before she broke Sarah Domermuth’s all-time record of 1,525 points. Since Harvey was one of Section 2’s leading scorers for the past four years, Domermuth’s mark was in serious jeopardy.
Last Friday in Berne, Harvey needed 31 points against Schoharie to become BKW’s all-time leading scorer, male or female. She had scored 35 points in two earlier games this season, so there was a decent chance. The Bulldogs’ fans hung on every shot Harvey took.
A meaningful Western Athletic Conference game was being played, but it was never close. This was Harvey’s night to shine, and she would not let the opportunity pass, or let any of her friends and family down.
Harvey would have been appreciated even if she didn’t make the record at home last Friday, but she did. With 3:01 remaining in the third quarter, and BKW ahead by 41 points, Harvey put in a lay-up for 1,526 career points.
On the verge of tears, Harvey embraced her sister, Sam; her father, Jeff; and her mother, Lisa, who all leapt from the stands after she made the basket. This was followed by more hugs from her Bulldogs’ teammates as the celebration unfolded at mid-court.
The sense of joy and accomplishment could barely be contained. Harvey sat cheerfully on the bench as the game resumed. The fact that BKW was blowing out Schoharie must have made the moment even more enjoyable.
The pressure of making the record was lifted. Harvey knew that 1,525 points was a very large number, so she never really knew if she could pass it. Now, she could end up with 1,700 points.
“Obviously, the record means a lot, but I don’t think it will really hit me until I’m older,” said Harvey after the game, surrounded by her father, sister, and coach. “I’m going to look back and say, ‘Wow, I really did that.’”
Harvey, who leads Section 2 in points per game (23.8) and total points (238), held a beautiful bouquet of flowers given to her by her father, who wears his signature “BKW DAD” hooded sweatshirt to every game. Harvey’s older sister was wearing Liz’s jersey.
“They’ll die, though,” Head Coach Tom Galvin said of the flowers as everyone burst out in laughter. “The record will never die.”
“Oh, I’m so proud of her,” said Sam Harvey, who played with Liz during her junior and senior years. Playfully, Liz rolled her eyes at Sam.
Harvey and her sister fight over clothes. They often wear each other’s clothes.
“When I played, she was way better than me,” Sam Harvey said. “I just enjoyed playing with her so much. If someone across the room ever said anything bad about Liz, I’d walk right over there and defend her.”
Harvey told The Enterprise that it means the world to have her family watching the games. “No matter if I win, lose, or how many points I score, they always support me and tell me how well I did,” she said.
Even with all these achievements, Harvey said she doesn’t get treated much differently. “My mom is like, ‘Good job, you scored 25 points, now go clean your room,’” she said.
Never trying to fit in or be popular, Harvey has done whatever it is she needed to do.
“Liz is just Liz,” Mr. Harvey said. “What you see is what you get.”
In the groove
Last Friday, as Harvey was gunning for the record, she missed three of her first four shots, but a lay-up and a deep three-pointer got her into a groove. She missed two free throws and two lay-ups, but still had 10 points at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Harvey really found a rhythm. She put in two free throws, three lay-ups, and three three-pointers. Harvey shot 11 of 26 on the evening and needed only four second-half points to break the BKW record.
“I told the team that Liz’s final mark will be unbreakable,” Galvin said. “I joked that, somewhere in the elementary school, there’s a second-grader shooting jump shots, saying, ‘I’m going to break that record.’ Who knows?”
That would be one ambitious second-grader. Galvin used to believe that Domermuth’s record was safe, but then Harvey became a scoring machine for the Bulldogs.
“If anyone ever gets close to Liz’s record,” said Galvin, “I’ll have to take them out of the game.”
In Galvin’s 18 years of coaching for BKW, four girls –– Kim Sikule, Andrea Van Dyke, Domermuth, and Harvey –– have all scored 1,000 career points. Sikule and Domermuth were teammates on the Bulldogs’ 2003-04 team that made it to the state competition.
Ted Pitcher is the only male to score 1,000 points for BKW. His grandson, Garrett, a senior, is getting close.
“I’ve been blessed with a lot of great players,” Galvin said. “Some coaches coach a lifetime and have only one Liz, but I’ve been fortunate to coach three or four.”
Harvey is definitely in the running of greatest BKW players of all-time, male or female, but Galvin cannot chose. He thinks Harvey and Domermuth are a lot alike as players.
“Any kid that is on that 1,000-point banner is great,” Galvin said.
Mr. Harvey said that he didn’t start following BKW basketball until his daughters started playing. He’s been to almost every game since.
“Just from watching her, I can tell that she doesn’t play for herself,” Sam Harvey said of her sister. “She wants to win, so, if someone’s open, she’s going to get them the ball. She does what it takes to win.”
In Harvey’s quest for the scoring record, she still found time to assist her teammates. And, with Harvey on the bench, BKW more than held its own. A lot of scoring falls on Harvey’s shoulders, but the seven other players are more than capable of putting the ball in the basket.
Monique Britton, an eighth-grader for BKW, scored 10 points against Schoharie –– perhaps on her own way to breaking a record.
“Opponents need to defend all of us,” Harvey said of her teammates. “They can’t just worry about me, or a few of us.”
At Duanesburg, the defense was all over Harvey. Kathryn Salo, a freshman, stepped in and scored 11 points. If opponents spend all their energy on guarding Harvey, they’ll get burned by the other BKW players.
Still, Harvey is an aggressive player. She can easily take over a game. If she wants a basket, she’ll most likely get it, or at least get to the foul line.
“Honestly, I don’t really think of it,” said Harvey of her scoring approach. Before Friday’s contest, she watched the film Pitch Perfect with her teammates. In the movie, Beca, a college freshman, is coaxed into joining her school’s all-girl singing group. Beca inserts some much-needed energy into their collection, and the group takes on their male rivals in a campus competition.
“No mentality, really,” Harvey said of her own energy. “I just go for it.”
Will to win
Harvey is willing to put up the shots because she wants to win. Thirty percent of her attempts go in, but that’s pretty good for a high school player.
“Since she was a little girl, she couldn’t stand to lose,” Mr. Harvey said of his daughter. “Board games, even, she couldn’t deal with it. She can’t deal with losing.”
Last season, the Bulldogs went 17-0 before losing the WAC Championship, and eventually got upset in the Class C quarterfinals. Harvey was devastated, but took that experience as motivation for this year.
“A sectional title would mean more than this record,” Harvey said. BKW is 9-1 right now. “We have the tools to do it. This whole record thing never changed how we played, but now I don’t have to worry about who, what, where, or when.”
Harvey has been accepted into the nursing program at Hartwick College, but she’s still not sure where she’s going to school next fall. She wants to play basketball in college, but hasn’t marketed herself that well because she’s focused on a career in nursing.
“I love playing basketball, but it’s tough to make a living with it,” Harvey said. “I’d rather succeed in nursing.”
Harvey works for success, whether in life or on the court, and has been recognized for her leadership.
Mr. Harvey remembers the junior-varsity team banquet when his daughter was an eighth-grader. Coach Bruce VanWormer had gracious words for Harvey, saying that she would become BKW’s best player. Mr. Harvey said a lot of people rolled their eyes at the time.
Galvin said that Harvey could be a starter on any AA school team in the area. He would bet his coaching job on it.
“If there was a mayor in Berne,” he said, “She could run tomorrow.”