COXEY — Daneshia “LuLu” Malone had one request heading into the season.
She wanted a basketball signed by her Clements High teammates.
Malone hasn’t received the signatures yet, but she now has the ball. The Clements star earned it by pouring in 22 points to lead the Colts past Sheffield 81-28 Thursday night.
Malone’s 22nd point was significant — a basket that places her in elite company as the fifth area girls basketball player ever to score 3,000 points.
West Morgan’s Hayden Hamby (4,506 points from 2008-2012), Speake’s Starr Orr (4,155 from 1998-2004), Lawrence County's Brooke Hand (3,190 from 200-2005) and Lawrence County’s Natasha Thomas (3,074 from 1995-2000) are the other area players to accomplish the feat.
“I had no idea that I was close to 3,000,” said Malone, a 6-foot center. “They told me when I came out of the game after making my last shot. I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say.”
Clements celebrated the moment with Malone after the game. School athletics director Kevin Davis and girls basketball coach Sonya Marks presented Malone with the game ball in front of a standing ovation from the home crowd.
Marks confirmed that Malone wasn’t aware of the approaching milestone. But really, no confirmation was needed.
Based on how Malone played in the first half, it was apparent she had no idea what was ahead. The star center frequently passed on opportunities to make a move toward the basket, opting to push the ball back out to open teammates on the perimeter. She had three assists in the first quarter that led to Clements 3-pointers.
“That’s just who ‘LuLu’ is. She’s about unselfish of a player as you will find,” Marks said. “Even if she had known (about the milestone), she still would have played that way. She’s more about the team than personal statistics, and that’s what makes her such a great teammate and a great player.”
Malone made getting to 22 look easy. When Sheffield chose not to defend her with two players in the second quarter, she piled up points in a hurry, dominating the lane with her tall stature and nimble feet. She scored on five consecutive possessions and had 16 points at halftime.
Hollie Evans finished with 19 points for Clements (7-3), while Alysia Anderson and McCall Gossett each added nine.
Malone is already one of the most decorated players to come out of the area, but she has a chance to join one more elite group before her high school career ends.
Hamby, Thomas and former Decatur star Yolanda Watkins are the only area players to earn first-team all-state honors four times.
Malone, a three-time first-team selection, is on pace to match their accomplishments.
“I’m not really worried about all that stuff,” she said. “Tonight really means a lot to me because I got to do it here. But now that it’s over, the biggest thing for me is focusing on my team. I love my teammates, and I want us to have a good season.”