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Kittanning's Henry closes in on milestone

| Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, 12:41 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Kittanning's Sterling Henry (right) goes for a lay-up in the face of pressure from Mars' Josh Goetz during a game at Kittanning High School on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch

Though he always had a knack for scoring points, Kittanning's Sterling Henry hardly gave any thought to offensive benchmarks in a basketball career until he witnessed teammate Nathan Stolitza score his 1,000th point in January of 2011.

“I didn't know that it was a really big thing to get 1,000 back then,” said Henry, then a sophomore guard. “So I was just coming to play. Then Stolitza got 1,000 points. Then I was hearing about (Highlands star) Micah Mason getting 2,000 points. So I was like, ‘Maybe I have a shot at getting 1,000.' ”

Henry thought correctly. With four games left in the regular season — and Kittanning certain to make the playoffs — the 6-foot-4 senior swingman needs 64 points to become the third 1,000-point scorer in program history.

“It kind of means a lot because I've been playing my whole life,” Henry said. “To be the third one (at Kittanning) would be sweet.”

Henry's curiosity about career records emerged after he witnessed Stolitza reach the 1,000-point mark and then go on to become Kittanning's all-time leading scorer with 1,347 points.

But Henry became optimistic about his own odds of reaching 1,000 during his junior season when he averaged 18.9 points per game to finish with 434 for the winter.

In need of 375 points at the start of this season, Henry established a sufficient pace; his average stands at 17.3 points per game. But his desire to reach 1,000 has not distracted him from his top task: Helping one of Kittanning's more talented teams in recent history reach its full potential.

Even after friends and teammates started to ask about the upcoming achievement, Henry tried to keep his attention solely on wins.

“I was trying to block it out as much as I could,” Henry said. “I mean, as long as we're winning, and if we go to the playoffs and keep winning, I think I'll eventually get it.”

Rather than sweat his point total, Henry worries about his all-around effort. He also averages 7.3 rebounds (first on the team), 3.6 steals (first), 2.8 blocks (first) and 4.1 assists (second).

Coach Bill Henry pointed to Henry's mentality during a 73-40 win over Freeport on Friday as an example of how the senior prioritizes his statistics. Henry finished with 13 points — third among the Wildcats — as well as nine assists and 14 rebounds.

When the coach pulled him late in the contest, Henry requested just a minute or two more — so he could earn one more assist and have a triple double.

“He could've had a lot more points, but on two-on-ones, he gave it up,” Bill Henry said. “He's just that unselfish.

“Statistically, his points aren't what they were last year, but we don't need him to do that. We've had so many other kids score points this year that our scoring average has gone up.”

The only reason Henry might grow a bit selfish during the next few games: He wants to score his 1,000th in front of the home crowd. Three of Kittanning's final four games are at home, and the playoff game will be on the road.

“If I don't get it in the regular season,” he said, “then it's not going to mean as much to me.”

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