Over the last two and a half seasons, Julianne Sutton’s teammates at North Georgia have developed a certain level of expectation for the former Flowery Branch basketball standout. So when she went to the free throw line early in Saturday’s game against Flagler College at exactly 999 career points, they knew what was coming.
Sutton sunk the first free throw — hitting a milestone she had been chasing since arriving on North Georgia’s campus — and was briefly swarmed by the rest of the Lady Nighthawks on the floor.
“They were like ‘Good job. We’re proud of you,’” Sutton said. “‘Now make the next one.’”
As expected, she did.
Sutton would go on to lead the team with 20 points in the contest, adding 14 rebounds to complete the double-double, and most importantly picking up the 66-56 win over Flagler.
After the game, Sutton finally had time to take a step back and think about what she had accomplished.
“It was pretty surreal,” she said. “I had a bunch of friends and family there tonight and then I had a lot of family watching online too, so just knowing that I had all that support there with my teammates and coaches, I couldn’t have asked for a better moment right there.”
The milestone is the latest feel-good moment for Sutton in a season of success, as she’s regularly paced the group in scoring on the way to its 11-1 start to the season.
The winning has come despite the team being comprised almost exclusively of underclassmen. Sutton is one of the few juniors on the squad, and there are no seniors.
“Everyone thought that this year was kind of going to be a rebuilding year for us, especially after our run last year,” she said. “But I really think everyone this year has really bought in to what North Georgia is and what we stand for here at North Georgia. It’s just really cool to watch all of us put all that together, just to keep winning.”
With her 1,000th point is in the rearview mirror, Sutton’s focus has shifted entirely to full team goals.
The Lady Nighthawks made it all the way to the Division II quarterfinals last season, and a Division II championship is just about the only item left unchecked on her list of dream accomplishments to close out her college career.
“We’ve tasted it,” she said. “We’ve been so close. So for me, just to win a national championship would be the icing on the best college career I could have asked for.”