Senior Japria Karim-Duvall scores 1000th career point

Hannah Yasharoff

By Julia McDermott and Hannah Yasharoff

In the past 25 years, perhaps even in the entire history of CHS athletics, only three girls basketball players have scored 1000 career points. Japria Karim-Duvall has just become the fourth.

When CHS girls basketball faced Walter Johnson Jan. 22, Karim-Duvall, a senior guard and captain, finished with 21 points, securing the 1000th point of her CHS basketball career.

“I knew I was close but I didn’t think I was going to reach it that game,” Karim-Duvall said. “When we play WJ it’s always a tough and aggressive game and I don’t normally get as many shots off so the fact that I got it then was overwhelming.”

Walking into the WJ gym on a chilly Thursday night, Karim-Duvall was trying not to focus on the fact that she was only 20 points from such a rare feat, the big 1000, a number that only a selective, elite group from Montgomery County has ever achieved.

“It’s really hard, in Montgomery County, to score 1000 because we don’t play as many games as other areas of the country do,” athletic director Scott Rivinius said. “To score 1000, you really have to play as a freshman and score enough to have a shot. She played on a strong team her freshman year and she’s been a big scorer in the county since.”

Since her first varsity game in Dec. 2011, Karim-Duvall has been a major scoring threat for the Bulldogs, averaging 12.5 points per game throughout her career, with 198 points in 13 games so far in her senior season.

“Through the years, she’s added more and more to her play,” head coach Katelyn McMahon said. “I think she’s our, if not leading rebounder, our second leading rebounder this year and her defense has helped us out in big games as well. She has just become more and more versatile each year.”

Going into Thursday night’s game, Karim-Duvall had 980 career points. With a season scoring average of 15.6 points, the chances of her reaching 1000 were high but not definite. A local rival, WJ would not be easy to defeat, and would be sure to man-mark Karim-Duvall, a standout player for the Bulldog offense.

“We wanted to keep the pressure off and before the game I didn’t tell her exactly where she was with points,” McMahon said. “We just planned for WJ, and I knew if we did that, it would take care of her points, too.”

By the half, Karim-Duvall had seven points, the Bulldogs were leading the Wildcats 31-14, and Japria’s family and friends were huddled together in the stands, fingers crossed and fists clenched, all hoping for another 13.

Taking the second half by storm, Karim-Duvall was on her scoring game, doing what she has been doing all season. Finishing the 3rd quarter with her point total increased to 16, including four deep three pointers, she went into the 4th with only four points to go. The next basket, a short hook from the paint with five and a half minutes left, had the crowd, and most notably the CHS Goon Squad, going wild.

“We weren’t positive if she knew how close she was or not, but we had a poster ready,” senior Goon Squad member Cece Wallerstedt said. “A bunch of the guys kept yelling to give the ball to her and we were super eager and started freaking out every time Churchill got the ball.”

The next four minutes, however, were driven heavily by WJ as the Wildcats scored nine unanswered points. With three minutes and two points to go, Karim-Duvall had multiple failed shot attempts, even making a three pointer that the referees quickly deemed a shot clock violation.

But with CHS up 54-43 and only a minute and 10 seconds on the clock, Karim-Duvall was fouled on a pass at the top of the key, sending her to the line to shoot one and one, and giving her one of her last opportunities to score her final two points.

“I thought ‘this could be it,’” Karim-Duvall said. “I was so nervous that I would miss. It was crazy that it happened at the free throw line. I couldn’t ask for a better situation. I don’t think it would have been the same if it would have been an jump shot or a layup.”

The ball swished effortlessly through the net once, and then again on her second attempt, enacting a roar from spectators as Karim-Duvall’s family jumped up in celebration, the Goon Squad proudly displaying a banner reading “1000” behind them.

“We’re just very proud of her,” Karim-Duvall’s mother, Shahida Wilson said. “We tried not to put pressure on her, but she knew how many points she needed. I told her to just go out there, play her best game, and have fun. She knew what she needed to do.”

Among those celebrating was Alis Freeman, CHS assistant coach, Karim-Duvall’s cousin and another 1000 point scorer for CHS. Contributing to the state-title-winning ‘02 and ‘03 teams, Freeman (‘03) played with the two other players to reach this achievement, alumnas Catherine Adams (‘04) and Morgan Hatten (‘04).

“It’s a huge accomplishment and takes a lot of hard work to get there,” Freeman said. “It was great to see.”

After beating WJ 60-48, the Bulldogs presented Karim-Duvall with a framed photo and “Congratulations Japria” cake as the team both congratulated her on her achievement and celebrated CHS’s big rivalry win.

“I have played with Japria since 2nd grade and it was awesome to see her accomplish this,” senior captain Isabella Wu said. “She is a great player who always encourages us to do our best and a good leader too.”

Known around the county for her extremely high level of play, Karim-Duvall is not only a scoring threat. This season, she is averaging 6.5 rebounds, three assists and four steals a game, which, according to McMahon, raises the play of the entire team.

“She’s not just a scorer, she does everything: she passes, she defends, she rebounds,” Rivinius said. “Other people that score 1000 points might be great shooters, but she scores in a variety of ways. She elevates her teammates play, and not all scorers do that. She’s definitely a complete basketball player.”

Nearing the end of the regular season with the last regulation game at Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Karim Duvall and the rest of the team will be setting their sites on the playoffs, where they are likely to face WJ again.

According to McMahon, the Bulldogs are looking good for the post-season, and the team hopes to carry its momentum into playoffs with the help of Karim-Duvall, who, despite such an individual achievement, is willing to pass and could not be more committed to the success of the team as a whole.

“She earned every single one of her points and it was really cool to see someone achieve such a great milestone and be a part of it,” McMahon said. “I expected her to do big things. She can do whatever she wants to do. She definitely can.”

Whatever the future holds for Karim-Duvall, she will be able to proudly recall the night she reached such a rare accomplishment.

“At first it didn’t really hit me that it was 1000 and later I thought to myself and I was like, ‘there’s only [three] other people at Churchill who have done this,’” Karim-Duvall said. “Then I couldn’t stop smiling.”