Carney column: 1,000 points barrage a noteworthy occurrence in valley
With basketball season coming to an end for a majority of the area teams this past weekend, it’s a good time to point out just how rare a feat three Garfield County players pulled off in the last month.
Back on Feb. 7 against the Basalt Longhorns, Coal Ridge senior forward Hunter Gerber eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career with two free throws in a 58-52 win, putting him on pace to set the Coal Ridge school scoring record.
While Gerber made headlines for his achievement, Grand Valley senior guard Kylyn Rigsby was also quietly closing in on 1,000 points for her career. Coincidentally, Rigsby would eclipse the career mark with a coast-to-coast layup against none other than Basalt on Feb. 21 in the first round of the 3A Western Slope League district tournament.
Along with Rigsby reaching 1,000 points, her cousin and former Grand Valley star guard Gunner Rigsby, now a senior at Fruita Monument, reached 1,000 points for his career as well, scoring eight points in limited action against Durango on Feb. 27.
Wrapping things up among Garfield County students, Rifle junior guard Elly Walters reached 1,000 points for her career in a 4A state playoff game against Green Mountain on Feb. 24, sending the Bears into the round of 16 in the state playoffs.
In total, four local basketball players reached a prestigious level in their high school careers. Much like 20,000 career points is the mark of a great player in the NBA and 2,000 career points is the mark in college basketball, the 1,000-point mark is the level that most great athletes in high school look to achieve on the hardwood.
And make no mistake: 1,000 points is a hard level to reach in high school. There are many factors that go into such high scoring, starting with early playing time. As of late, that seems to be the key, especially around here, because it’s so hard to score nearly 500 points in a single season.
Granted, Glenwood’s Cameron Horning scored 579 points just one year ago for the Demons, but that season was an outlier. Grand Valley’s John Parker also scored 579 points last season, allowing him to rack up more than 1,200 points in his stellar career with the Cardinals.
But the fact that four local athletes — all of which I’ve had the privilege of covering in the last two years on the job — reached the 1,000-point mark back-to-back-to-back-to-back in a span of just 20 days is truly remarkable — and for many sports reporters, unheard of.
I thought it was a cool feat for all four of them to reach the prestigious mark, but it wasn’t until last week that I truly realized how remarkable it was. After talking with the Post Independent Editor and Publisher Randy Essex, it hit me how rare and, quite frankly, impressive it was that these local athletes all did this in such a short span of time.
Dating back to last basketball season, Horning and Parker happened to be the only athletes I wrote about during hoops season that reached 1,000 points. That was a huge deal for the community of Glenwood and Parachute because both Horning and Parker were in the middle of two of the best single seasons in school history while also leaving marks as arguably one of the greatest players in each program’s history.
Now, flash forward to this season, it seemed like everything was accelerated. It was almost as if I didn’t get a chance to reflect on what I had just witnessed on the court with Gerber before it was time to start writing about Rigsby’s achievement with Grand Valley.
Then, just four days later Walters eclipsed the mark in a playoff win.
With hoops season sadly over, now’s a good time for reflection, and I feel lucky to have been a part of the special run with these players. While Walters still has one year left in her career at Rifle, Gerber and the Rigsbys will move on to the college level.
Prior to moving to Colorado, I never had the chance to cover a 1,000-point scorer, but in just under two years I’ve had the chance to cover six. Getting a chance to cover three of them personally this year, while watching the other from afar, I’m not sure I’ll ever get the chance to do this again at any level.
It’s such a difficult level to reach in high school sports that you just never know when watching these young men and women perform who will be the next one to crack the 1,000-point mark.
But I do know this: Coal Ridge junior guard Brandon Herrera will likely join the prestigious club next season, while sophomores like Rifle’s Carter Sturgeon has a shot in a few years with the Bears. Glenwood’s Angel Garcia also has an outside shot, as does Grand Valley’s Shaya Chenoweth.
However, so much has to go right for that trio of sophomores in the coming two seasons for them to reach that mark. Based on the way they play on a nightly basis, though, there’s a good bet by the time their high school careers are over that they’ll be in the club.
And who knows, maybe all three of them will do it in succession much like this past season.
Lightning rarely strikes the same place twice, though.
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Playing on the road at Cedaredge Tuesday, the Coal Ridge High School volleyball team scored a tough win in five sets, 3-2, over the Bruins.