A young boy was in charge of the “Countdown to 2,000” sign. He would change the number in the center of that sign every time Brazil Harvey-Carr scored a point.
To his right was a large banner that read, “Go Brazil.” Further down the court was a set of balloons in the shape of the number 2,000.
The rest of the walls surrounding the court were peppered with handmade signs of encouragement for the star of the LEAP Academy girls’ basketball team.
This school was decidedly not downplaying it’s meeting with history.
Friday night, LEAP — a small Charter school in downtown Camden — made it clear just how much Harvey-Carr means to its community and how proud they were of her historic moment.
“I’m just truly blessed,” Harvey-Carr said after she became the 28th girls’ basketball player in South Jersey history to reach 2,000 points in a 45-17 win over visiting Paulsboro. “This was just so special to be a part of. LEAP is such a great school and a welcoming environment. And I’m just so glad that I was able to share this with my teammates and coaches and family. I’m grateful for all of them.”
Harvey-Carr needed 18 points to reach the milestone. It was easy work for a player who averages 32.4 points per game. She netted the historic basket on a free throw late in the second quarter, prompting an in-game stoppage complete with flowers and pictures and yet even more signs.
She finished the night with 35 points despite sitting for most of the fourth quarter with LEAP nursing a healthy lead.
“I’m just so proud and happy for her and her family, who are so supportive,” said LEAP coach Ted Evans. “She is so humble. She’s so easy to coach. She works so hard. She’s the total package.”
Before she scored her 1,000th point as a sophomore, Harvey-Carr said she felt pressure in the games leading up to the milestone, that she would be nervous during games.
This time around, it was clear she’d been there before.
“I felt calm and collected,” said the 6-foot senior point guard. Harvey-Carr flashed every skill in her toolbox on Friday night, particularly her passing ability and three-point shot — she hit five of them — which is one of the quickest and deadliest in the state.
She’s come a long way, she said with a laugh, from when she was 5 and would shoot three-pointers underhanded on the LEAP middle-school playground.
Her rise has been aided by family of basketball players, many of whom were part of a big turnout Friday night. Harvey-Carr’s grandmother was a basketball player. Her Father, Ronald Carr, was a star for Camden High. So were her cousins Rasool, Nasir and Nasim Hinson.
And, of course, her sister, Brandi, scored more than 1,000 points at LEAP before a college career at DePaul and Pittsburgh.
Brandi and Brazil are the only players in LEAP history to score more than 1,000 points.
“I always wanted to follow in my sister’s footsteps,” Brazil said. “She made me realize that it would be possible to score 2,000 points by my senior year.”
In such a small school — made up of roughly 500 high school-age students — it’s often tough to fill sports teams. And many players on the LEAP girls’ basketball team didn’t start playing basketball until high school.
But when Evans thinks about Harvey-Carr’s impact on LEAP — and what she means to the student body — he looks to LEAP’s middle-school basketball program.
“A lot of those girls are getting into it now because of Brazil,” Evans said.
Knowing that is humbling, Harvey-Carr said. But she’s determined to give back to the community that’s given so much to her.
She helps out on that youth team, coaching and mentoring younger players.
“The youth team is very great. I just want to see them get better. I want to show them that it’s possible,” Harvey-Carr said.
Even on her own high school team, she’s spreads her knowledge to less experienced teammates and encourages them to elevate their game.
Though the odds might again be stacked against LEAP, Harvey-Carr said there’s still one more piece of history she wants to make before continuing her basketball career at the University of Rhode Island.
LEAP has never won a playoff game. The team has qualified for the South Jersey Group 1 tournament in each of Harvey-Carr’s three seasons but came up short in each year, including a heartbreaking loss to Woodbury in overtime last season.
They’ll likely see a deeper team in the playoffs, a team with more experienced players. But Harvey-Carr said her team’s heart can make up for it.
“We definitely have a chance this year,” she said. “We just have to keep working hard and playing as a team. That’s how you can achieve your goals.”