Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Elena Pulanco Registers 1,000th Career Point in Tournament Play

Demarest, NJ: Academy of the Holy Angels’ basketball phenomenon Elena Pulanco scored her 1,000th career point December 30th as AHA battled Old Tappan in the Joe Poli Holiday Tournament. Pulanco’s milestone three-point shot temporarily halted the first quarter while those present at the game hosted by Pascack Valley High School recognized her achievement.

The well-matched teams took the game into overtime, when AHA was edged 50-47; but the final score was hardly the top story for AHA. All told, Pulanco scored 29 points, including 21 from three-point range.

“Elena is an extremely talented player who is a true leader both on and off the court. She is our go-to player in every situation,” AHA Athletic Director Patti Gorsuch stated.

The Englewood senior’s post-game comments demonstrate her exemplary attitude.

“Going into my last game of 2017, I knew I was close to hitting my 1,000th point, but I never focus on counting points in a game,” Pulanco said. “When the game clock starts, I just concentrate on what’s happening on the court and what I need to do, one possession at a time. I know if I do a good job at that, then the points will come eventually.

“So when I hit my first three-pointer and I heard the announcer acknowledge my 1,000 point milestone, it actually felt like a surprise. It meant a lot to me that I reached it on a three-point shot because it’s something I’ve had to work on and develop through the years.

“When I stood with my team for a photo, next to a special banner they made for me, it felt great and only right to capture this quick moment with the people who helped make it possible. I would not have reached this goal without the opportunities created by my teammates and coaches, so I am very lucky and thankful to be surrounded by such great people for this career moment.

“I was also happy that it happened at the Joe Poli Holiday Tournament, which has become a sort of homecoming event for local basketball players. Many friends and former teammates who I played with in grade school were present for this game, which made it even more meaningful for me.”

Pulanco has been a varsity starter for AHA since her freshman year. She has been named Most Valuable Player and is her team’s leading scorer. She was part of AHA Coach Susan Liddy's 700th win, and helped Holy Angels earn the league title last season. She has also distinguished herself by being named First Team All-County and becoming a state finalist. In addition, Pulanco won the GymRat Challenge Platiunum Division as a club basketball player with Hudson Valley Elite. She has been named a three-time All-Tournament selection in the GymRat Challenge and a three-time All Star selection at the Nike Nationals.

Pulanco constantly challenges herself by playing against strong competitors and training with D.J. Sackmann.

Commenting on her final appearance in the Joe Poli event, Pulanco said, “As a senior, it felt bittersweet to know it was my last time playing at this tournament, but I honestly couldn’t ask for a more memorable and graceful way to exit.”

This fall, Pulanco will attend Wofford College on a full scholarship. She will play Division 1 basketball as she works toward a degree in sociology and anthropology with a minor in studio art.

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.

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