Jacob Hickey was central Maine’s first 1,000-point scorer this season. Hickey reached the milestone on Dec. 13, in his second game of the season.
Two days later, Messalonskee’s Sophie Holmes joined the 1,000-point club. On Jan. 21, Temple Academy’s Brad Smith made it, then Jordan Jabar of Waterville 10 days later. On Feb. 4, two area players scored their 1,000th point on the same day, Winslow’s Heather Kervin and Mason Cooper of Lawrence.
Six players in one region scoring their 1,000th career point in one season could lead the uninformed fan to think the 1,000 Point Club is a mundane achievement. It is not. Scoring 1,000 career points should never be considered easy.
Maine high school basketball teams are allowed a maximum 18 games in the regular season. Let’s add one game per season for tournaments. Even if a player earns regular playing time for three straight season, he or she has to average 17.5 points per game to reach 1,000. A lot of very good basketball players, some who either were late bloomers or played on teams where playing time was scarce for freshmen or sophomores, didn’t reach the 1,000-point plateau.
With the tournament beginning this week, the chase for the gold balls takes center stage in the Maine basketball world. First, let’s celebrate the 1,000-point scorers, who have more in common than membership in that exclusive club.
“As a child, you want to win a gold ball, and score 1,000 points,” Holmes said. “Hopefully, I get the second goal.”
Longtime Forest Hills boys basketball coach Anthony Amero has coached five 1,000-point scorers in his years in Jackman. Each is among the most competitive players he’s had, Amero said.
“Practice might as well be the state championship. They want to show they’re the best every time they’re on the court,” Amero said.
Holmes said she knew she was getting close to 1,000 points late last season, after a Class A North playoff win at the Augusta Civic Center, when Messalonskee coach Keith Derosby informed her she had broken the 900 point barrier. The goal for Holmes became not just to score 1,000 points, but to do it quickly.
“I wanted to get it over with. People say you don’t think about it, but you know you’re close,” Holmes said.
Holmes entered Messalonksee’s Dec. 15 game against Medomak Valley 32 points shy of 1,000. Late in the game, knowing she wanted to reach the mark on the Eagles’ home court, Holmes launched a long 3-pointer, something that’s become a trademark of hers. The buzzer beater went in, giving Holmes 1,000 points.
Like Holmes, Hickey said approaching 1,000 points didn’t make him nervous.
“I think it made me work even harder,” Hickey said.
Hickey’s 1,000th point came on an old, familiar play Hickey remembered from his younger days, selected by Winthrop head coach Todd MacArthur specifically to get Hickey a good shot. Hickey came off a fade screen in the slot, got to the corner, and launched the historic three. Hickey was the lone central Maine 1,000 pointer this season to earn the feat on the road.
“Mountain Valley fans were really supportive. They gave me a standing ovation. There were a lot of Winthrop fans there, too,” Hickey said.
For Jabar, reaching 1,000 points at home was important.
“It meant a lot to get it at home. For the amount of time I’ve spent in that gym and all the hard work in there,” Jabar said.
Jabar’s 1,000th came on a driving layup against Skowhegan, and was the culmination of a conversation she had with her father at the end of her freshman season.
“After freshman year, my dad and I started talking about it. He said if I want to score 1,000, I have to put the work in,” she said.
Jabar added that it was special to reach 1,000 points in the same season as two of her friends, Holmes and Kervin. The trio have played on the same AAU team together, and Holmes and Jabar will be teammates next year at St. Joseph’s College.
“From 6 a.m. AAU practices to being here now, it’s amazing,” Kervin added.
Maine’s smallest schools, like Forest Hills, are allowed to include eighth graders on the varsity roster. That extra year hasn’t played as big a part in the 1,000 point scorers Amero has coached with the Tigers as one might think, he said. Evan Worcester was the only one of the five to play significant minutes as an eighth grader, and scored his 1,000th as a junior. Worcester finished with more than 1,500 points, Amero pointed out, and would be over 1,000 if the eighth grade points were taken out.
Amero’s most recent 1,000-point scorer was Matt Turner in the 2014-15 season. That team was led by four seniors, and went undefeated to win the Class D state title. As the season progressed, the group asked Amero, which of us is closest to 1,000? Told Turner, the group made it a goal to get their teammate to the milestone.
“They said ‘OK, let’s get him 1,000.’ They shared in that,” Amero said. “It’s fun for me, because I know how hard they’ve worked. Teammates worked hard to get a person to that plateau. Every kid wants to be the one to make the pass. It’s a team award. A lot of people shared in it.”
Some players, like Jabar, Holmes, and Kervin, come off a strong freshman year and set 1,000 points as a tangible goal. Then there’s Smith, who reflected back on what he described as a tough freshman season, and is still somewhat in awe that he reached 1,000 points.
“It wasn’t realistic in my mind,” Smith said. “When I was informed I could get it, I was like, that could be an impressive honor.”
Smith’s 1,000th point came on an offensive putback. He didn’t have time to think about it. Smith just grabbed the rebound and acted on instinct.
“My whole family was there. It was really important. It’s a tremendous honor. I think about my coaches who helped me, and my teammates who supported me,” Smith said.
Kervin was lucky, in that she and Winslow coach Lindsey Withee were able to line up the senior to reach the milestone on senior night, against rival Waterville, in front of a packed gym. The game prior was a 37-point win over Maranacook. When Kervin left that game, she was two points from 1,000.
“I wanted to get it on senior night. I wasn’t nervous or anything,” Kervin said.
It came two minutes into the game on a 3-pointer. That was significant to Kervin, and was a reminder of the hard work it took to get to that point.
“Freshman year, I went from not being allowed to shoot 3-pointers, because it wasn’t a good shot for me, to making 1,000 on a three,” she said. “I’ve put in a lot, a lot of hours. It’s been a dream of mine.”
Shortly before Kervin reached 1,000, and a few miles north in Fairfield, Cooper had never been so nervous at the free throw line. When he toed the line in the second quarter against Bangor, Cooper knew it was for 1,000 points.
“Honestly, it was one of the most nerve-wracking points I’ve had in basketball,” Cooper said.
Cooper said 1,000 was a goal he set back in junior high, when then-Lawrence head coach Mike McGee, his physical education teacher, gave Cooper tapes of former Lawrence stars and 1,000-point scorers like Troy Scott and Trafton Teague. Cooper studied the tapes, and also drew inspiration from Nia Irving and Domi Lewis, seniors on Lawrence’s girls team last season, who each scored 1,000 points.
“After my junior year, my dad said I might get it,” Cooper said. “It’s been a goal since growing up. It’s kind of a selective club.”
After reaching 1,000 points, Cooper reached out to Scott and Teague, to thank them for paving the way. Cooper’s appreciation for his place in his school’s basketball history is another common thread among 1,000-point scores. Hickey spoke of Winthrop’s previous 1,000 point scorers, especially Sam Leclerc. Hickey remembered being in third grade and watching Leclerc play for the Ramblers, winning a state title.
“He was always somebody I looked up to,” Hickey said.
Kervin remembered congratulating former Winslow boys basketball standout Trevor Lovely, who scored his 1,000th point in 2014, also on his senior night. “He said, ‘You’re the next one to get it,'” Kervin said.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242