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Thomas first NW girl to break 1,000 as a junior

If you have been watching the Northwestern Lehigh girls’ basketball team over the past three seasons, you witnessed something that had never previously been accomplished in the history of the program.

Coming into the season, eight Lady Tiger players had reached the 1,000-point milestone - but none had done it before their senior season. That changed when Cara Thomas reached the milestone this past season as a junior.

Thomas witnessed her sister Erika become a 1,000-point scorer in 2016, and she was on the court when Paige Sevrain scored the 1,000th point of her career during the 2022-2023 season. She was also on the court when Sevrain became the program’s leading scorer. In fact, it was Thomas who assisted on both of the milestone baskets for Sevrain.

Sevrain’s mark will be jeopardy next season.

Coming into her senior year, Thomas is at 1,012 career points. Sevrain stands at 1,258 points in her career. Thomas scored 298 points as a freshman and 276 points as a sophomore, before exploding for 438 points as a junior this past season.

As she approached the milestone, Thomas was focused more on her team continuing to win in the postseason than she was on the milestone.

“I don’t really think about it that much,” said Thomas heading into the game against Blue Mountain where she would set the mark. “I’m excited about it and I am looking forward to it, but I just want us to keep playing and to do that, we have to keep winning, so that’s what we are all focused on right now.”

When she looked back after passing the 1,000-point mark and also moving ahead of older sister Erika on the all-time scoring list, what she had accomplished started to sink in a little.

“I get that nobody has ever done it as a junior and I’m proud of that, but I think the whole team is dedicated to winning and that’s what we want to do,” said Thomas after the season. “We all want to win districts and make a run in states because we have seen other teams do it and we want that for us, too.”

As for passing her sister, there is no real rivalry between the two and Cara is quick to acknowledge that it is Erika who has been her biggest supporter and has helped her to be a better player.

“We have talked about it, but she is mostly there to help me with my shot and let me know if she sees something I might be doing wrong or something I should consider,” said the younger Thomas. “We both just have always wanted each other to do well and are each other’s biggest supporters.”

The fact that Thomas reached 1,000 points was no surprise, but to do it as a junior was surprising. Needing 426 points to reach the mark when the season opened was a lot to ask for. In addition, with Sevrain gone, the worst-kept secret in the Colonial League was that Northwestern was going to look for Thomas to score a lot of points. Thomas was always guarded by the opponent’s toughest defender and usually double-teamed, but she was able to score more points than in any of her two previous seasons.

“She has been just awesome to have on the team,” said Northwestern coach Chris Deutsch. “She is very calm, goes about her work, and doesn’t shy away from putting in extra work, whether it’s shooting free throws or working on her shot. That’s what it takes to put up the numbers that she has both this season and overall.”

The 2024-25 season will be a countdown to Thomas resetting the team’s all-time scoring mark. She is approaching that just as she did the 1,000-point milestone - with humility and a team-first approach.

“That’s something for down the road,” said Thomas. “We’re going to have another good team, and we should be able to win a lot of games. It will be my final season in high school, and I want to enjoy it and really go out on a high.”

Northwestern's Cara Thomas topped the 1,000-point mark for her high school career during the Tigers' District 11 playoff game against Blue Mountain. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO