Brighton basketball seniors end 2021 season with new recordsMar 29, 2021 10:47AM ● By Tavia Dutson
Jaimeson Meyer finished with 1,015 points throughout her high school career, surpassing the highly sought after 1,000-point mark. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
By Tavia Dutson | [email protected]
The Brighton girls basketball team entered the season with a lot of excitement and a lot of big goals. As the season came to a close, the Bengals were able to record 11 wins and secure a playoff berth. Individually, two seniors were able to leave their mark on the program by setting new records and hitting important milestones.
Lilly Cheatham set the school record for three-point shots made in a season and in a career. Jaimeson Meyer was able to score 1,015 points throughout her high school career, surpassing the highly sought after 1,000-point mark.
“It was awesome,” said head coach Doug Nielsen. “They surpassed everyone’s expectations.”
In the first round of the UHSAA tournament, Cheatham hit a three-pointer that tied the record at Brighton for most threes in a season. Shortly after, she rolled her ankle and had to come out of the game. Nielsen was tracking her season statistics and was worried she would have to finish her season without sole claim to that record.
“She said she felt better and came back in the fourth quarter and hit two more. It was unbelievable,” Nielsen said.
Cheatham finished the 2021 season with 55 three pointers and 116 total career three pointers. Without this outstanding season, Cheatham would not have even been thinking of eying these records.
At the onset of the season, the team was not sure what to expect. In a tough region and with a rocky past few years, morale within the program could have been low. But Nielsen and the team knew that this was a special group that could set big goals.
“Our goal with the schedule we had was to get 10 wins and we got 11,” Nielsen said.
While most of the Brighton team was setting these goals and playing together in fall games, Meyer was not sure she would even be able to play basketball this season. Meyer has been a standout athlete in both basketball and lacrosse at The Waterford School in Sandy for the past three years. When COVID-19 got increasingly bad in the fall of 2020, administration at Waterford made the tough decision to cancel winter sports.
“I definitely wanted to make it to 1,000 points but when my school canceled the season it just felt so out of reach. I thought I wouldn’t be able to play,” Meyer said. “Luckily, my dad found this opportunity. At that point I had given up on my dream of scoring 1,000 points.”
After making the team, Meyer had to get used to playing at the 5A level which proved to be different from her experience in 2A.
“I was used to putting a lot of pressure on myself when I played at Waterford. At Brighton I had to learn more about how to play alongside girls that are really good. It was a different style of play,” Meyer said.
Meyer proved to be a quick learner and became an important member of the squad, playing whatever position they needed her to. Although she was no longer the star of the show, Meyer was able to put up enough points to reach her goal of 1,000 points. Meyer knows that it was because of her new Bengal teammates that she was able to make it this far.
“I came into it and didn’t know anyone. I definitely was not expecting it to be as great as it was,” she said. “People really just enjoyed practicing and playing together as a team this year. I’m glad that I could come in a year that seems so huge for the program.”
As the 2021 season came to a close, Nielsen and the team are already looking forward to what next year has in store. Although many seniors, including Meyer and Cheatham, will be leaving the team, the underclassmen are excited to get training.
“We are going to build off this season. The season ended and everyone wanted to know when we are playing next,” Nielsen said.
The team is unlikely to forget the history made by Cheatham and Meyer. Their teammates were excited to experience their achievements alongside them and are hungry to leave their mark as well.
“It’s very cool that both of us seniors have been able to leave a mark on the school. I think we have had an impact on the girls we played with,” Cheatham said.
Among those inspired is Abigail Gray, a junior and the second leading scorer from the team. As soon as Cheatham broke the three-point record they began talking about ways that Gray could overtake that record just next year.
“That’s just one example to show what is expected now,” Nielsen said. “This is what we are doing. This is not something that won’t happen again for five years.”