MONROE -- Saline junior Ella Stemmer has achieved something few Hornet hoopsters have ever accomplished. Stemmer entered Thursday’s game at Monroe needing four points to hit 1,000 for her career. At 2:59 of the first quarter, Stemmer hit a three-pointer. Less than 30 seconds later, the Hornets got the ball back. Senior Amera Boyd inbounded to Steffi Bentley, who whirled around and kicked the ball out to Stemmer. Stemmer swished her 10-foot jump shot for points 1,000 and 1,001, giving Saline an 8-2 lead. As she ran back toward half-court, she was mobbed by teammates. Saline coach Leigh Ann Roehm called time out to collect the game ball and let the team and Stemmer savor the moment. After the game, Stemmer, her teammates, coaches and family posed for pictures with flowers, balloons and placard commemorating the moment.
“It’s just such an honor. I never thought I’d be here,” Stemmer said.
She credited her teammates, coaches and family for the success she’s enjoyed.
“My teammates have inspired me and kept me working hard,” Stemmer said. “Coach Roehm has been such an inspiration. But most of all, my family. They’ve sacrificed time and money to help me always stay in the gym.”
She also credited her AAU coachees and teammates for helping her.
Coach Roehm said Stemmer should be proud of the feat.
“It’s a rare accomplishment. It’s a historical moment - but it’s a moment that’s been in the making for well over a decade. It started when she was in elementary school,” Roehm said. “As her coach, I am so proud of her and that all that hard work pays off in a moment like this.”
Stemmer’s skill and talent was impossible to miss even when she was a freshman on varsity. Now a junior, she’s honed her skills. She can beat you any way you want to play her.
“She’s so versatile. She can shoot the three. She can take you off the dribble. She has great footwork and post moves. She shoots at a really high percentage and she’s been consistent, day-in and day-out,” Roehm said.
But for Roehm, what makes Stemmer special can’t be measured in percentages and averages.
“It’s the leadership ability. It’s the hard work. It’s the way she cares about being a teammate,” Roehm said. “All of those extra things make her that unique kid and I can’t say enough about her.”
Stemmer has played other sports. But she’s dedicated to the sport of basketball - a sport she loves.
“I love that it’s fast-paced. I love being to celebrate all the big things with my teammates - not only hitting the big time shot, but getting the charge on defense or making the extra pass, just so you can get that nice shot. Those are all nice feelings and I wouldn’t trade them for the world,” Stemmer said.
According to Al Bates, who tracked Hornet sports records for decades, Stemmer is the first Hornet to score 1,000 points since Lia Cronenwett, who graduated in 2005. Before Cronenwett, Liz Chriscinske, of the class of 1992, also topped 1,000 points. Stemmer now has 1,015 points. The school record, according to Bates, belongs to Liz Chriscinske, who scored 1,250 points for the Hornets between 1988-92. Chriscinske went on to play at Spring Arbor, where she set the career mark with 2,129 points.
Stemmer knows the individual career record is within reach, and she’s determined to leave a legacy in the Saline High School girls basketball program. But there are other ways to leave a legacy.
It was hard not to recall, as the Saline girls celebrated Stemmer’s accomplishment, that it was this Monroe gymnasium where the Hornets last celebrated a district championship in 2013.
Stemmer wants to raise a district trophy with her team this year. It won’t be easy. There’s a strong Huron team standing in the way.
“We definitely want to win districts. It’s been a goal since my freshman year. But I think we have a great team,” Stemmer said. “I think we can accomplish it. We’re so close on the court. I think it’s definitely reachable this year.”