By Cary Shuman
Bill Devin is sending the Lynn Classical High School girls basketball 1,000-point club banner to Indian Orchard.
“Indian Orchard is in Springfield (Massachusetts) and that’s where the Nixon Company is that makes the banners,” said Devin, director of athletics at Classical. “We want the banner back soon so Paris and her family can see her name up there this season.”
“Paris” is Paris Wilkey, the Franklin Pierce College-bound 5-foot-10-inch senior forward, whose two free throw swishes in the second quarter made it 1,000 points for her varsity career. Wilkey joins four other Classical basketball greats who have achieved the honor: Michelle Smith (1982), Nicole Foisset (1996), Helen Ridley (2001), and Monique Lee (2004).
Wilkey finished with nine points (she had needed five) in the game as Classical defeated Beverly, 47-32, before a good crowd of Rams supporters, including her father, Paris (for whom she is named), and her mother, Christine.
“My parents have been a big part of everything that I have accomplished,” said Paris. “They’ve always pushed me to work hard and do well in school and always take advantage of opportunities that are given to me, and that’s what I’ve done and I can thank them for that.”
Wilkey said a weight has been lifted from her game now that she has scored the much-anticipated point.
“I feel like it’s another thing that’s dropped off my shoulders and now I can just focus and play my game,” she said.
Wilkey thanked coach Tom Sawyer, who has guided her career for the past four years.
“Mr. Sawyer has always pushed me to work hard as well,” said Wilkey. “My coaches are a big part of this because they’ve always had high expectations for me, and that has definitely helped me in the long run, especially with this achievement.”
Sawyer said the team had two goals in the game: win the game at home against a very good Beverly team and have Paris score her 1,000th point.
“Paris let the game come to her tonight, and that’s what we needed as a team to win,” said Sawyer. “Paris is in distinguished company. There are only four girls before her, and one of them we’re very fortunate to have working with us in [assistant coach] Helen Ridley, who knows what it like to play in college, and she’s a great resource for our kids.”
Ridley welcomed Paris to the club.
“I’m really happy for Paris,” said Ridley, who was a captain at Quinnipiac College. “When she came in to the program freshman year, we talked and she said she wanted to play in college. All along the way, I’ve pushed her pretty hard as an assistant coach and she ‘s put in a lot of effort playing AAU and basketball year round. It’s a big honor and it’s really great for her. She’s such a good kid, and she does really well in school.”
Former softball great Afton Dean, who called the game for the Lynn Educational TV station and is a teacher at the school, also praised Wilkey.
“Paris is a tremendous student-athlete, and I don’t think it could have happened to a better student at Classical,” said Dean. “She’s a great, all-around kid. I’m sure it’s a little bit sweeter that the 1,000th point happened in front of the home crowd. I think it was great to see the support from the student body. It says a lot about our school. All of her hard work has paid off and she has a bright future ahead of her. You could see Paris was something special from the beginning.”
Beverly coach Seth Stantial had his defense pay special attention to Wilkey, employing a box-and-one on the dynamic scorer.
“Paris has been one of the better players in the NEC for the past four years,” said Stantial. “She’s been impressive for a long time so she deserves it and congratulations to her.”
Devin expects the Green and Gold banner with “Paris Wilkey” on it, to be back at the school in two weeks.
“This was an exciting night for Lynn Classical,” said Devin. “Only five girls have scored 1,000 points, and Paris is in great company. All those hours spent in AAU Tournaments and summer leagues to improve herself as a player, it’s paying dividends right now. I’m very happy for her family, too.”
Interestingly, Wilkey scored her 1,000th point on the same night that her AAU teammate, Valentina Pepic, reached the milestone just a few miles away at Revere High School.
Meanwhile, Classical is playing outstanding basketball as its 6-1 record indicates. Senior Irianis Delgado has been looking like an All-Star candidate, leading all scorers in the game with 19 points. Senior guard Jeylly Medrano, who runs the show for the Rams’ offense, had 10 points and six assists.