Before Kylie Kuhn was excelling on the hardwood and lacrosse field, she was executing cartwheels, handstands and rolls on a gymnastics mat.
But once her brother began playing basketball, Kuhn wanted to do the same.
"It’s definitely a big transition between gymnastics and basketball," Kuhn said. "There are not many things similar."
But her athletic prowess quickly shined. Kuhn started playing basketball in sixth grade and made the varsity team as an eighth-grader. And Thursday night, she set the Deer Park girls basketball all-time scoring record with 1,231 points to be named Newsday’s Athlete of the Week.
She knew entering the game she was close to the mark and after making a layup in the fourth quarter for her 29th and final point in a 56-30 victory over Comsewogue, coach Mike Gennaro called a timeout and her teammates celebrated as Kuhn walked off the court.
"It means so much to me," Kuhn said. "It proves all my hard work is starting to pay off and it was just such an amazing feeling. That made me realize how special of a moment it was."
Kuhn surpassed Andrea Desvignes, who graduated in 2012 with 1,229 points.
The 5-6 senior guard said she never could have imagined setting the program’s scoring record when made the varsity team in the eighth grade. But although Gennaro knew Kuhn was relativity new to the sport, he knew she had superior athleticism.
"She’s just an incredible athlete," Gennaro said. "I wouldn’t even say she’s an incredible basketball player, she’s just an incredible athlete playing basketball."
Gennaro has nicknamed Kuhn "Special K" for her abilities as a three-sport athlete (she also runs cross country), along with a bevy of extra circulator activities and ranking near the top of her grade in GPA.
"Her athletic ability is off the chart," he said. "There’s a lot she still doesn’t know about basketball and we are talking about a girl with 1,200 and possibly 1,500 points."
Kuhn, who is committed to play lacrosse at Siena College, reached this milestone even with only playing eight games as a junior in a shortened season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She wasn’t sure if the missed time would affect her ability to set the record but it’s also made her appreciate every contest more.
"Before every game starts, I tell myself, ‘This could be the last game I ever play’ because you never know with COVID," Kuhn said. "Anything can happen at any given moment so I have to make sure I give it everything I have."
She is averaging 26.2 points per game through 12 contests, including scoring at least 30 points in five games. She has recorded a triple-double with points, rebounds and steals in each of Deer Park’s last two games as her defense separates her from other top players on Long Island.
"Teams employ a lot of defenses on me to try to take her out of the game," Gennaro said. "But what they don’t realize is she doesn’t really score a lot of her points on offense. She scores a lot of them on defense."