Claire Lock found herself wide open behind the arc as the seconds ticked down on her high-school basketball career and she swished a three-pointer.
It was one of the few times anything came easy for her or Lee’s Summit during a long and difficult senior season for Lock.
That three-pointer provided the last points during the Tigers’ 41-32 loss to Belton on Monday in the first round of the Class 5, District 13 tournament at Raymore-Peculiar, a loss that brought the curtain down on a 1-24 season marred by injuries, illness and other issues.
Lock experienced all that and more this season and throughout her four years at Lee’s Summit. But despite all the games she missed, the 5-foot-9 guard still managed to eclipse the 1,000-point mark for her career and find an even deeper appreciation for the game she loves.
“It’s definitely made me play harder, want to be on the court more,” Lock said. “And I cherish it more when I’m off the court. It makes me grateful for what I have.”
Lock’s star-crossed senior season started with a knee injury in the season-opener, which sidelined her for seven games. She later battled the flu bug along with the rest of the team.
Then, on the morning before the Tigers hosted Lee’s Summit West last month, Lock injured her right hand after slipping on some ice and basically had to play left-handed.
“We’re kind of used to the black cloud over us,” Lee’s Summit coach Jessica Crawford said. “It’s just been kind of one thing after another.”
But Lock still got her points when she was on the floor. She averaged 16 points and five rebounds in the 13 games she played, including a game-best 18 points in her finale.
Lock scored her 1,000th career point Feb. 22 during a 58-51 loss at Blue Springs South and finished with 1,021 points.
“Going into high school I wanted to get to state, I wanted to score my 1,000th point and get all these awards and stuff,” Lock said. “So, I feel like the amount of stuff I’ve overcome, I still achieved some of those goals.”
Lock’s trip to state came last year when Lee’s Summit rolled to the Class 5 title game after a sub-.500 regular season. Seven seniors graduated from that team, and Lock wound up being the only returning player.
Lee’s Summit started this postseason playing Belton (11-14) to a 14-14 tie and then held the Pirates to three points in the second quarter with a packed-in zone defense.
But Lee’s Summit managed only four points in the second period and 14 more the entire second half. Belton outscored the Tigers 13-5 in the third quarter and put the game away with a turnover-fueled 9-0 run.
“Our third quarter is our worst quarter,” Lock said. “We come out, kind of lose focus, throw up some crazy shots. We fought hard in the fourth quarter; we just couldn’t seal the deal.”
And that sealed the end for Lee’s Summit and Lock, who has signed to play next year at UMKC. Even after all the losses, she walked out with her head held high and excited about the progress her young teammates made.
“Despite our record, we went out and played hard,” Lock said. “So, I’m proud of all the girls and excited for the next chapter.”