Kalani Brown probably didn’t need the ladder Saturday afternoon.
At 6-foot-6, Brown probably could have easily just took the scissors, reached up and just started snipping away at the nets.
But she climbed a few steps of the ladder anyway, towering over everyone else in the gym like she has so often done in her stellar career.
For Brown, it was her final time in the paint in her high school gym.
She cut the final few pieces of the net away from the rim and hung them around her neck.
A good chunk of the 2,346 (and counting) career points she has scored went through those same nets.
It’s more points than any player in Salmen history.
She reached the milestone with 5:09 left in the first quarter of Saturday’s nail-biting 51-48 victory over Rayne in the Class 4A quarterfinals.
She surpassed Natalie Walsh, a 2000 Salman grad, who scored 2,333 career points.
“When I came here as a freshman, I said I am going to beat her one day,” Brown said. “It’s a great accomplishment.”
It’s the latest of many accomplishments for the Baylor signee.
Reigning Class 4A Player of the Year. Reigning Miss Basketball for Louisiana. McDonald’s All-American. The list, much like Brown, just seems to keep growing.
It was a fitting way to play her final game in her home gym, something that her friends and teammates reminded her about leading up to Saturday’s game.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” she said. “I’m glad I left this gym with a win. A good win at that. It’s really starting to hit me now though.”
Next, she’ll head to what has been her home away from home: The Top 28 in Lake Charles next week.
It will be her fourth straight trip to the Final Four. The last two trips she helped her team haul a state championship trophy back to Slidell.
It was pretty obvious from the outset that she was going to do her part in getting the No. 2 Spartans (26-4) back again.
She came out on fire, scoring her team’s first 11 points and 13 of the first 17.
Halftime score: Kalani Brown 19. Rayne 18. (Salmen led 34-18).
But Rayne, which last won a state title in 1990, didn’t go away.
The Wolves put together a barrage of fourth quarter 3-pointers to make it close late, almost turning Brown’s final home game into Brown’s final prep game period.
“Brown may have had us intimidated a little bit in the first half,” Rayne coach Chester Randall said. “During halftime, we adjusted and played out kind of basketball. The team you saw in the second half is the team I’ve known all season.”
Rayne, which trailed by as many as 18 in the first half, cut the deficit to 47-46 with 1:31 left on a 3-pointer by Charlesha Dugas. It was her fifth of the game and one of eight in the game for the Wolves. But Rayne was never able to regain the lead in a game that had some quirky calls at the end. Three different violations were called on free throws in the final nine seconds (two against Rayne, one against Salmen).
Brown finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds, six blocks, and two assists.
“Just another night for Kalani Brown,” Salmen coach Kevin Anderson said. “She always comes to play.”
Anderson gets to coach Brown at least one more time in Thursday’s semifinals.
“Two more times would be great,” he said, hinting a return trip to Saturday’s championship game.”
For Brown, the thought of putting on her No. 21 jersey just a few more times this week seemed a little bitter sweet.
“It makes me want to cry,” she said. “This is my alma mater. I have been here for four years and I love these girls like they are my sisters. I am just going to try to make the most out of it.”
While it makes Brown a little sad, coaches around the state will likely say “Good Riddance.”
“It’s almost like it’s unfair,” said Randall, whose Rayne team finished 23-7. “There is nothing you can do to stop it. I got film on her. We’re not the first and we sure won’t be the last to get a taste of Brown.”
No, you probably won’t be.