Over time, Lee’s Summit North girls basketball coach Tricia Lillygren might not recall the score or the amazing shooting statistics from her latest milestone victory.
The moments she will treasure will be more personal.
Lillygren notched her 400th career victory Monday when the Broncos held on for a 66-61 victory during a back-and-forth game at Staley. And like all the other big wins during her 25-year coaching career, the most important memories for Lillygren will be the people surrounding her.
“I told the kids, wins are kind of like things ... but it’s the people you remember,” Lillygren said. “You don’t remember the games themselves.”
Lillygren prefers to recall who was in the locker room for each one of those milestone games. She also cherishes the former players, coaches and friends who were on hand along with the cupcakes and cookies the Broncos had waiting after the game.
“It was emotional,” Lillygren said. “I had former players with their kids in the stands ... just a really nice gesture by a lot of people.”
Lillygren knew she was near win No. 400 at the start of the season, but she said it still kind of snuck up on her. She wasn’t keeping track, so it might have slipped her mind completely were it not for family and friends reminding her.
“I don’t ever track any of that stuff,” Lillygren said. “Maybe once a year, when we put together the stat book at the end of the season, I’ll put some of the numbers together. But other than that, it’s just the daily grind.”
North senior Tiana Gipson made Lillygren’s big night more memorable by hitting 6 of 7 three-pointers during a 32-point performance. Aiyana Johnson made all eight of her shots from the field,finishing with 16 points for a Broncos team that went 23 for 36 from the free-throw line.
“(Gipson) just lit it up; she hardly missed,” Lillygren said. “Even the three she missed, it rattled in and out.”
North (11-4) led 34-26 at halftime but had to hang on against an equally hot-shooting Staley team.
The Falcons, who shot 50 percent from the field and made eight three-pointers, outscored the Broncos 19-10 during the third quarter and took a one-point lead into the final period.
North trailed until Gipson’s three with less than a minute left tied it. The Broncos sealed the game by making 14 of 14 free throws in the final period.
“That right there is phenomenal,” Lillygren said. “You’re going to win some games if you can shoot free throws like that and get to the line. I was thrilled with that because, when we started this season, we were not doing well from the line at all.”
Lillygren now boasts a 400-231 career record, which includes two seasons at Raytown South before arriving at North when the school opened in 1995.
During that time, she has led the Broncos to seven Suburban Conference titles, four state-tournament appearances and a Class 4A state title in 2002.
Of course, that’s not what makes this all so memorable.
“It’s been an outpouring of love and support,” Lillygren said. “It’s been a fantastic few days here.”