In the midst of a historic career filled with memorable performances and milestones, Central High School senior Kendra Wilken will long remember the night she went into the Cougars record books — twice.
With Central playing Greenville on Dec. 21, Wilken broke both the girls all-time scoring record held by Lynn Klostermann and the Central all-time scoring mark held by current McKendree University player Brandon Book as the Cougars defeated Greenville 45-23.
“I knew I was getting close but I thought I was still 20 to 50 points away. And I didn’t know both records were so close to each other,” Wilken said on Tuesday. “I’m pretty sure I broke the all-time record with a free throw. I know when people think of breaking a scoring record, they think of doing it on a nice jump shot or maybe scoring on a move close to the basket. But it seems that lately a lot of my points have come from the foul line. That’s alright though. Free throws help wins games too.”
Wilken, who now has 1,928 points heading into the Cougars’ showdown with Highland on Thursday, broke the record of 1,832 held by Klostermann in the first half. The free throw which made her the top scorer in history — eclipsing the mark set by Book (1,848) came in the second half.
“At halftime coach (Nathan) Rueter announced that I had broken the record by Lynn (Klostermann). It was very nice because I got to meet her and have our picture taken when she handed me the basketball,” Wilken said. “Then, and I think there were maybe four or five minutes left in the game, they announced that I had become the all-time points leader in school history.
“Brandon’s sister Alicia is a teammate of mine and a good friend and it’s just an honor for me to be mentioned with such a great player in Brandon Book. It was a great night.”
Wilken, who recently went over the 1,000 rebound mark for her career and currently sits with 1,012, should crack the 2,000-point mark either next week or when Central begins play in the Highland Tournament on Jan. 16.
The Cougars, the Class 2A state tournament runnerup a year ago, were ranked first in the Associated Press Class 2A State Basketball Poll which was released late Tuesday afternoon. Central is 14-2 and will host Highland, ranked 13th in the Class 3A state poll, on Thursday. Highland defeated Central in the title game of the Mascoutah Girls Invitational on Dec. 30.
As for Wilken while the points, records, honors and accolades are nice and very rewarding, she would give them all back if she could help her team to a state championship in about two months.
“The points, the honors and everything else are all wonderful and things I’ll always remember. But I’ve said this before, that I would trade each and every individual honor if we could win a state championship,” Wilken said. “It’s something that everybody should have the chance to experience. We were able to get to the state title game last year and to get back and have a chance to win it is something I feel that we have a chance to do. But there is still a long season ahead of us.”