ONTARIO — A girls basketball record that stood for 41 years finally fell Saturday night.
On a driving layup with 6:30 to play in a game against Bishop Montgomery, Ontario Christian senior Chloe Briggs passed legendary Cheryl Miller to become the CIF Southern Section’s all-time leading scorer.
Here it is: Chloe Briggs’ basket that broke the CIF-SS career points record pic.twitter.com/LxIoNn7muI
— Pete Marshall (@PeteMarshallLaw) February 19, 2023
Briggs finished the 74-70 victory with 42 points to give her 3,458 career points, 12 ahead of Miller, who finished her Riverside Poly career in 1982. Briggs now ranks No. 3 all-time in state history in career points and will finish her career there as the No. 2 player (Charde Houston of San Diego High School) has 3,837 points.
“To be right next to Cheryl Miller is pretty crazy,” Briggs said. “If you would’ve told me that four years ago before I started high school, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
The game was the final pool play game in the Open Division playoffs. Ontario Christian did not advance to the championship game, but Briggs will have at least one more game in the CIF State playoffs to add to her record. That game likely will be Feb. 28.
Briggs finished Saturday’s game going 13 of 25 from the floor (2 of 7 on 3-pointers), and made 14 of 18 free throws. She also had 12 rebounds and eight assists, only turned the ball over three times and added three steals. She had 14 points in the first quarter, 23 points in the first half and 28 points in the first three quarters. She made 6 of 8 free throws in the final minute to secure the victory. The 42 points matched a season high, previously achieved against Aquinas in an Ambassador League game last month.
“At first, I thought … it might be tough to get those points (Saturday),” Briggs said. “I just came out strong. Me and my teammates got excited in the locker room and got a bunch of energy up. That really helped. Once I got a couple of those and-1s, I knew this was the game.”
The basket that broke the record gave Ontario Christian a 58-56 lead, and Knights coach Matt Tumambing immediately called a timeout so the accomplishment could be briefly recognized with an announcement and a display on the videoboard with pictures of Briggs, reading “CIF Southern Section all-time leading scorer Chloe Briggs.”
After the game, she celebrated with teammates, coaches, friends and family and was presented with a mini basketball that recognized the accomplishment and added the date.
Chloe Briggs said she’ll have a special place to display this memento pic.twitter.com/qNq4CQWAc8
— Pete Marshall (@PeteMarshallLaw) February 19, 2023
Tumambing, whose first year as Ontario Christian’s coach was also Briggs’ freshman season, reflected after the game.
“It’s been an honor. It’s been a blessing,” Tumambing said. “She’s special all-around, not just the scoring, but the passing, the way she loves the game, the way she loves her team. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to start off my girls coaching career with.
Briggs said she never really considered the possibility of breaking the record until Tumambing told her about it.
“At the beginning of the season, my coach told me (about the record),” Briggs said. “He said, ‘you’re close, you could get it. It’s going to be tough.’ He told me it was reachable and I was like, ‘OK, I’ll try.’ Honestly, I wasn’t really concerned with that throughout the season. I’m concerned with getting better and winning a ring this year. That’s what I want most. Nothing would mean more than a ring, but this is pretty cool.”
Tumambing admitted the record has been more on his radar than Briggs’.
“I’ve been the one talking about it more than her,” he said. “She’s not really big on records. She’s a winner. She just wants to win. We talked about it, 31 points away (entering Saturday), and she’s like, ‘I don’t care if I break the record as long as I win.’ That’s all that matters. That just tells you about her.”
Briggs has led the Knights to unprecedented success, leading them to the Division 4AA finals as a freshman, the Division 3AA finals as a sophomore and the Division 2A finals as a junior. Ontario Christian was runner-up each of those years. The Knights aren’t in the section finals this year, so Briggs will have one final chance to win a playoff title, in the CIF State playoffs, where the Knights are expected to be placed in Division I.
Briggs’ best scoring season came her freshman year when she scored 1,216 points in 36 games, averaging 33.8 points per game. This season, the University of Washington-bound Briggs is averaging 26.7 points. For her career, she averages 28.3 points per game.
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Knowing she will need to be physically stronger for college, Briggs has been spending time in the weight room and it shows. Five times Saturday she made the basket despite being fouled. She converted four of the five free throws into three-point plays.
“I’ve been lifting five days a week, sometimes twice a day,” Briggs said. “That has really helped. I’ve put on 10 pounds. I still need a lot more but definitely I can notice it in my game. I’m being stronger, not falling on the ground all the time and I’m finishing more shots. I still need to work on my defense and get stronger to play on the college level.”