Dakota Daniello ’23 was the picture of calm as she spotted up just outside the arc in the second quarter of last Tuesday's game against visiting Rye Country Day School.
Sitting at 998 career points, Daniello was seemingly immune to the pressure of the moment.
Daniello's ensuing 3-pointer didn’t even graze the rim, vaulting her into the history books alongside fellow Masters' 1,000-point scorers Brooke Tatarian ’21, Kendra Cooper-Smith ’19, Naya Williams ’14, Jackie McCaffrey ’04 and Allie O’Donohue ’04.
"As I saw the ball go through the basket, I was relieved and excited knowing I had reached a goal I had been striving for," said Daniello, who finished the game with a career-high 34 points to power Masters to a 58-33 victory. "There was a lot of adrenaline going on as the crowd and my team started cheering for me. All in all, it was a surreal moment."
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It was also a moment that once seemed out of reach for Daniello, who began her varsity tenure as an admittedly undersized eighth grader.
"I honestly did not think it was possible," she said. "Hearing others complete the goal made me want to reach it, but it felt daunting at the moment."
Even more impressive, Daniello was able to reach the milestone despite losing an entire season to the pandemic.
"Hitting 1,000 career points is a huge and rare accomplishment for any high school basketball player," varsity girls basketball coach Andrea Fischer ’02 said. "When you add in COVID taking away a year of competition, and making our returning season unpredictable because of exposures, it is an extraordinary accomplishment that Dakota was able to hit this milestone."
Extraordinary — but not unexpected, according to Fischer.
"I had a feeling heading into the game that Dakota would hit it," Fischer said. "She is one determined and competitive player! You could tell as soon as the ball left her hands that it was going in, and I think the reaction of everyone on the bench was pure excitement."
Daniello spotlighted all those who supported her en route to achieving the milestone.
"It was the support system around me — my family, friends, teammates and trainers played a big role," said Daniello, who wrapped up her career with a total of 1,078 points. "I felt supported by each and every one of them, which made me determined to reach this goal. Another key was being able to get through adversity by brushing bad games off and moving on to the next one."
Daniello was a must-watch talent at Masters over her five-year stint, playing with a flair and competitiveness that routinely sent crowds into hysterics. She was also a member of the varsity girls basketball first-ever NYSAIS championship team in 2019.
Daniello, who will play at Division II Florida Southern College next season, exits Masters as a one-of-one type player.
"You cannot say enough great things about Dakota as a basketball player," Fischer said. "From ball-handling, shooting, driving, grabbing rebounds and steals, Dakota can do it all."