When senior Kristen Polan scored her 1,000th point on December 22 in a non-league game at Southold, she not only solidified herself and her older sister, Jennifer, in Westhampton Beach girls’ basketball history but Suffolk County history as well.
Kristen and Jennifer joined only a dozen other sister combinations in the county who have also reached the 1,000-point plateau together, according to www.highschoolhoops.org, a website that compiles statistics from coaches who are a part of the Basketball Coaches Association of New York. Allison McKenna of Elwood/John Glenn just joined her sister Jackie in the 1,000-point club earlier this month.
Nicole and Carrie Kazmarski (Sachem/Longwood), Kristen and Megan Doherty (Sachem East), Jasmine and Ieasia Walker (Copiague), Marlene and Jamie Ward (Wyandanch), Nicole and Alyssa Rubino (Comsewogue), Jennifer and Jamie DiChiara (Kings Park), Shea and Megan Kenny (Miller Place), Calisha and Carla Clark (Wyandanch), Barbara and Lori Durham (Sachem), Chanel and Mary Chisholm (North Babylon), and Mattie and Crystal Jones (Wyandanch) make up the rest of the sister combinations that have reached the 1,000-point milestone in Suffolk County history.
“I think it’s awesome that my sister and I have reached that milestone,” Kristen Polan said. “Basketball has always been in our blood and to represent Westhampton Beach in that way is great. I’m proud of my sister and happy we were both able to do it.”
Westhampton Beach head coach Mike Polan, who is also the father of both Jennifer and Kristen, said he was very proud of his daughters, both of whom started playing for the varsity team as eighth-graders. He added that he was certain it was difficult for them to be starters for him for their entire high school careers.
“There’s a lot of pressure being the coach’s daughter,” he said. “Everybody assumes they’re getting preferential treatment, but I was probably harder on them than any other players. I always told them there shouldn’t be any question in anybody else’s mind that they shouldn’t be out there.
“I’m sure it was stressful for them as players and, at times, difficult for them, but they never told me,” he added. “They put aside all those things and, just like any other player, they listen, do what they’re told, and when they came to practice or a game, we always had a player/coach relationship. It wasn’t a father/daughter situation and I think they understood that.”
Jennifer Polan finished her career with 1,087 points and, after graduating from Westhampton Beach in 2007, went on to play basketball for four years at the State University of New York at Cortland. Jennifer graduated from Cortland last year and is currently living in New York City and pursuing her master’s degree in speech pathology at Hunter College.
Jennifer remembers breaking the 1,000-point mark against rival Elwood/John Glenn her senior year and wanting to reach the milestone to get it out of the way.
“I know my dad wanted to make it as low-stress as possible for me but, being the competitive type of person I am, I wanted to reach that goal and it was a relief when I finally did reach it,” she said. “It’s not really one of those things where you’re thinking you have to score this many points this game to reach it. It’s really just in the back of your head that you’re close to the goal.
“Thinking back,” she continued, “it was more exciting than it was stressful.”
Kristen recalls watching her sister reach the milestone when she was in seventh grade and, from that point on, made it a goal of hers to reach the 1,000-point mark. She added, however, that it wasn’t always easy for her. Her older sister played on more successful teams—the Lady Hurricanes reached the New York State Final Four in 2005 and were a constant playoff team during Jennifer’s tenure. She also never had to be the main scorer as she was surrounded by the likes of Kelly Cavallo, another 1,000-point scorer, as well as Brittany Carter and Christina LaVigna.
But, perhaps more surprisingly, Kristen suffered a few major injuries throughout her career. Kristen, a rare three-sport athlete (basketball, lacrosse and volleyball), tore knee ligaments during her freshman lacrosse season and needed surgery to repair them. She rehabbed her way back and played, albeit limited, during the next basketball season, but basically missed out on a full sophomore campaign. Kristen also suffers from shoulder problems, where her shoulder randomly pops out of place. It is a nuisance she said she will probably have to deal with for the immediate future and, in the meantime, now works on strengthening her shoulders.