'Never give up': Solon Springs' Latvala scores 1,000th point
The Eagles junior guard reached the milestone Feb. 23.
SOLON SPRINGS — Before the Solon Springs girls basketball team faced Winter to open the WIAA Division 5 postseason Feb. 23, junior guard Kyra Latvala was 20 points shy of 1,000 for her career.
"Me and my coach had talked and we knew that 20 points was hard to score in a regional game, and it was going to be tough," Latvala said.
She ended up scoring 26 points to lead the Eagles past Winter.
And the shot that put her over 1,000 points?
"I had shot a 3-pointer on the shot before and my teammate Gretchen (Hammond) got the rebound," Latvala said. "I cut through the lane and she gave me a pass for a layup."
Coach Sarah Smith took a timeout so Latvala could be recognized for her achievement.
Fans throughout the gym stood up. Some held signs for Latvala.
"I felt like the most special girl in the world that night," she said. "It was definitely crazy. I felt all the love from my community and school. I definitely felt on top of the world with everybody cheering for me."
Smith said the atmosphere that night was a bit stressful because it was a playoff game, but the crowd could tell that Latvala was getting closer to 1,000 points.
"You could tell the kids ... knew," Smith said. "The game started out a little bit slow, but then once we started playing our game, I think everybody was a little bit more at ease and it was exciting."
A three-year starter and captain for the Eagles, Latvala achieved the milestone as a junior, despite two seasons impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though there were times when the team faced large deficits, Latvala never gave up, Smith said. That attitude, combined with her work ethic, helped her reach 1,000 points.
"She’s willing to work really hard and she never really gives up. ... She’s just not afraid to be the leader on the floor and she’s not afraid to shoot the ball," Smith said. "When we need someone to score, she will step right up and do it. To some girls that might be intimidating, but it’s definitely not for her."
Latvala said reaching the milestone took some weight off her shoulders, and to accomplish the feat as a junior means a lot to her.
"It’s really something my family has been super proud of and the community and everyone, so it’s been really cool," she said.