NEW MATAMORAS - For the past four years Frontier High School senior Heather Booth has been the proverbial thorn in the side of opposing teams.
Gifted with athleticism and solid basketball skills Booth developed into not only one of Frontier High School's best offensive players, but one of the best offensive players in the Pioneer Valley Conference.
"She's a very nice player to coach," said Frontier girls' basketball coach Eric Rinard. "She's an all around nice player to have on your team."
Within the past week Booth has certainly proven her status among the elite players at Frontier.
Last Friday night against the Magnolia Lady Blue Eagles, Booth became just the second girls' basketball player in Frontier history to surpass the 1,000 point plateau for her career.
Monday, Booth passed former Frontier standout Stephanie Cochran to become the all-time leading scorer in Frontier girls' basketball history.
"I couldn't have done it without God, obviously, and all my coaches throughout the years," Booth said.
Coaches and teammates have been a big part of Booth's life as a basketball player, and she was quick to credit everyone from elementary coach Amber Hanes to Rinard and Frontier junior varsity coach Don Strahler. Booth was especially grateful to her high school coaches.
"These four years, they have totally helped my high school career," Booth said.
From the first time she stepped on the basketball court her freshman year Booth had the goal of one day surpassing the 1,000 point mark for her career, she just never actually believed it would be possible.
"I was always thinking it'd be cool if I could do that, but it'll probably never happen," Booth said.
That goal became a reality on Friday as Booth entered the Magnolia game with 997 career points.
After hitting a basket from the field, Booth earned a trip to the free throw line where she sunk the charity toss and hit the 1,000 point plateau.
Exactly how close Booth was to 1,000 points was kept hidden for much of the season, but the cat was let out of the bag the day before the game, so as Booth stood at the free throw line she had an idea of what the shot was for.
Rather than being nervous, Booth treated her charity shot just like all the ones she's made during practice with Rinard at Frontier High School.
"It was just like practice. If it goes in, great," Booth said.
The shot went in, and Booth was given the game ball courtesy of Magnolia High School in honor of her achievement. And then the pressure was off, and Booth could just play the game she's loved all these years. "After I hit the foul shot, I was like whew, it's over," Booth said.
Cochran was the only other Frontier girl to record 1,000 points with the Lady Cougars.
"Being the second person, that's not too bad," Rinard said.
By passing the 1,000 point mark, Booth joined elite company as just the second girl and seventh player overall at Frontier. The last player to cross the 1,000 point mark was former Frontier standout Ben Huntsman in 2009.
Three days later, she earned another game ball.
With her 17 point, 12 rebound effort against Magnolia, Booth finished the game just two points shy of Cochran's Frontier record of 1,016 points, which she recorded in the 1999 campaign.
Once again, the cat was let out of the bag as people at school told Booth how close she was to becoming the school's all-time scoring leader.
That record and how close she was to it, however, was the last thing Booth wanted to be told.
"I was like, I don't want to hear that," she laughed.
Fortunately for her, the game against Beallsville Monday night began as a close contest, and she was able to forget about everything and just play the game as she was more worried about helping her team.
At halftime, Beallsville announced she had achieved the milestone and once again presented her with a game ball. That's when she remembered what she'd done.
"They announced it, and I thought...oh yeah," Booth said. "I wasn't really thinking about it."
Now that the two biggest milestones of her high school career are behind her, there's just one thought on Booth's mind - play one more game.
And then play one more.
Frontier enters tournament play at Union Local High School tonight against the Caldwell Lady Redskins, and Booth simply wants to spend as much time on the court as she possibly can with fellow seniors Ashley Kimble, Hilary Thacker, Cameron Wolfe and Miriah Buegel, with whom she's played frequently since second grade under coach Amber Hanes.
"All the hard work's paid off, all the hours in the heat and the cold, in the gym has paid off," Booth said.