Hallie Thome scored just over 1,000 points during her illustrious career at Chagrin Falls High School.
Entering last Sunday’s game against Illinois, the senior center needed only one point to surpass 2,000 points at Michigan. Four minutes into the first quarter, sophomore Hailey Brown lobbed the ball down to Thome on the right block. Just as she had done countless times before, Thome spun around her defender and converted the routine layup.
With the basket, Thome joined Diane Dietz and Katelynn Flaherty — who graduated last spring — on the Wolverines’ list of 2,000-point scorers.
“It means a lot,” Thome said. “It shows a lot about this program to have two players do it within a year of each other, so a lot of the credit should go to the coaches here for helping make the players so successful.
“And a lot of the credit should also go to the point guards we’ve had. For me being a post-player and not bringing the ball up, so it’s all about the guards giving you inside touches.”
Added Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico on the WKTA Radio show: “It means from the minute she stepped on campus, she has made an immediate impact on our program. She’s been such a special player for us. I’m just so happy for her because she’s worked so incredibly hard and I think you saw that excitement from her teammates as well.”
Despite being a heralded recruit — a McDonald’s All-American and Ohio’s Ms. Basketball her senior year — Thome never expected to be in this position.
“2,000 didn’t seem realistic,” Thome said. “To come to college and do that is mindblowing to me. Then again, credit to (assistant coach Melanie Moore) on developing me as a player to be able to grow and fill the shoes Michigan needed as a post-player.”
Thome burst onto the Big Ten scene as a freshman, starting all 35 games for the Wolverines. She was dominant at times, recording a 31-point game and nine others with 20 or more. Still, compared to Flaherty or even Siera Thompson, Thome served as a secondary or tertiary option.
Thome eclipsed 1,000 points a year later, becoming the third sophomore in program history to surpass that mark. Even though Thome had followed in Dietz and Flaherty’s footsteps through the first half of her career, she remained skeptical of reaching 2,000.
“I feel like your first two years of college are your easiest in sports because the other teams only play you twice,” Thome said. “So they don’t really know how to guard you. I thought ‘Okay, maybe I’ll get to like 1,500 because people know I love to go left, so there goes my left hand.’ ”
Opponents may have learned of Thome’s strengths but stopping them was a different story entirely. Forming a tag-team with Flaherty, Thome increased her point tally to 1,679 as a junior.
Though Thome looked destined to reach the mark earlier this season, injuries, inconsistent play and Michigan’s overall depth and offensive balance have slowed her production. Nevertheless, Thome kept a positive mindset throughout.
“My injuries were nothing compared to what (freshman guard) Amy Dilk has faced and what (senior guard) Nicole Munger has faced,” Thome said. “So I’ve just tried to put it into perspective and realizing it is my last year, always tried to be positive. When you get injured, it’s easy to get negative and think about yourself and everything you’re missing out on, and that’s when things tend to keep going south for you.”
That mentality has paid off for her, as Thome has reached double-digit point totals in five of the last seven outings.
After finishing with 14 against the Illini, Thome is now just 63 points away from passing Dietz for second on the all-time scoring list — an achievement that appears likely with three regular season games remaining before the Big Ten Tournament. Flaherty on the other hand, who became the all-time leading scorer in Michigan basketball history last season when she passed Glen Rice, remains unreachable at the top.
For Thome though, talk of legacy and individual accolades can wait. Instead, she is more concerned with keeping the Wolverines’ current win streak intact.
“It was never really a concern of mine to score 2,000 points,” Thome said. “I just wanted to make sure our team was sticking together and finding a way to win. Accomplishing this goal is great and everything but it doesn’t change me or anything like that. Having this accomplishment just reflects back on my team and how selfless we are.”