Pair of Trojans reach 1,000-point scoring plateau
At this rate, California Area High School basketball coach Phil Pergola might soon be running out of basketballs.
While some scholastic programs may never have a player score 1,000 career points, Pergola has watched not one but two of his seniors reach that lofty plateau this season, and the pair achieved that feat within a week of each other. To recognize their accomplishments, Pergola presented each with the game ball used to score the 1,000th point.
In the second quarter in a loss to Steel Valley in the Charleroi Christmas Tournament, Tanner Huffman missed a fast break layup and calmly put back his own rebound to reach that magical figure.
At the 6:53 mark of the third quarter in the Trojans' section win over Bentworth on Jan. 4, Brian Fisher found nothing but net on a three-point shot for the 1,000th point of his career.
Both, Pergola noted, trail several players, including Matt Rossi, who eclipsed the 1,400-point total in his career with the Trojans and sits atop the school's career-scoring ladder.
While coaching the pair on the varsity level for four seasons — each will be a four-year letterman — Pergola, in his ninth year coaching the Trojans, with two section titles and six playoff appearances, has watched their development and progress since they were fourth graders and attended summer basketball camps. Both lettered as freshmen and each is in the starting lineup for the third year. Huffman's career high game was a 32-point effort last year, while Fisher's career high of 33 also came last season.
Huffman, a 6-foot guard, missed six games last year due to injury, when he averaged 15 points per game last year and shot 78 percent from the free-throw line.
“Tanner is a solid all-around player,” Pergola said. “His desire and intelligence have been keys to his success. He knows the game and sees the floor well. He is a good shooter with three-point range and can play either point or shooting guard. Besides his offensive talents, Tanner's leadership has been a major contribution this season.”
Averaging 16 points and seven rebounds per game last year, Fisher, at 6-2, can play either guard or forward. He was an all-section and all-district selection last year, as well as team MVP.
“Brian is relentless and determined to get things done,” Pergola explained. “He can penetrate or step outside and hit the three. He is a solid all-around player, offensively and defensively. He can take you inside or outside and use either hand. Brian is a smart passer as well. I've watched him progress throughout his career, but his most progress has been in his outside shooting.”
While 1,000-point scorers may be quite rare, as are four-year lettermen, both put their achievements in a team-first perspective.
“It's a great personal achievement,” said Huffman, selected to the Finest Fifteen (section players) as a freshman and a Tribune-Review third-team selection as a sophomore. “I've always heard about other players scoring a thousand points, so it's always been somewhat of a goal. Once I realized 1,000 points were within reach, as I was getting closer I wanted to achieve that goal, and now I am very excited about it. But team wins are more important than individual stats.”
Smiling as he acknowledged the partisan Trojans' fans reaction when he hit the three-pointer to reach the 1,000-point mark, Fisher said, “It means a lot to do this for the school and I've worked hard to achieve 1,000 points, but it's more important for the team to win the section title. Individually, it's special to experience something like scoring 1,000 points because it's not something that occurs often.”
But there is more to Fisher, who played goalie for the Trojans' soccer team and pitches for the baseball team, and Huffman than merely their exploits on the basketball court.
Each has a 4.0 grade average.
Extracurricular activities also play a significant role in their scholastic careers. Both are members of the National Honor Society, and Leo and SADD clubs. Huffman is a member of both the yearbook (Montage) and newspaper (Burgundian) staffs, Student Council and Student Forum. Fisher also holds membership in the Model United Nations organization.
Les Harvath is a freelance writer.