Kittanning's Henry scores his 1,000th career point
Kittanning senior Sterling Henry's pursuit of a milestone ended with an exclamation point.
Late in the second quarter of Monday's 66-41 home win over West Shamokin, Henry, in need of one more point to reach 1,000 for his career, stole a pass in Kittanning's end and used a breakaway dunk to attain the accomplishment — just the third Wildcats player to do so.
“It was sweet,” said Henry, who, with game-high 17 points (1,012 total), also passed 1974 graduate Jake Demetrious to move into second place on the school's career scoring list. “I just wanted to get it over with. ... I was relieved.”
Henry entered the nonsection game in need of five points to hit the mark. The task seemed simple enough for the senior who averages more than 17 points per game.
A floater in the lane less than two minutes into the game started Henry off right. But an offensive struggle ensued. Members of Kittanning's student section, the “Jubilation Nation,” unleashed groans as two 3-point attempts by Henry clanked off the rim.
A layup with 5:20 left in the second quarter brought the tension to an apex. And Henry appeared ready for the big moment two minutes later when, during a drive to the hoop, he drew a foul as he tried to underhand the ball toward the basket.
“Can we get this out of the way now?” Kittanning coach Bill Henry muttered at the bench, eager to see his team extend a 16-13 lead.
But officials ruled the foul occurred before the shot attempt.
With 2:28 left until halftime, Henry poked away a West Shamokin pass across the top of the 3-point arc, raced to the other end and, safely out in front of defenders, slammed a two-hander.
Henry intended to dunk as soon as he got the steal, he said. But his coach wondered if he might settle for the safer bet, a layup.
“I thought, ‘Just lay it in and get it over with,' ” Bill Henry said. “But I guess he did it the right way.”
Kittanning's student section exploded with cheers. New Year's Eve-style hats and noisemakers emerged.
“I wasn't ready for it,” Sterling Henry said. “I didn't know it'd be that loud. It was crazy.”
The big occasion behind them, the teams turned their attention to finishing their regular-season finale in a way that would build momentum for the playoffs. Henry's dunk came in the midst of a 14-3 Kittanning run that sent the Wildcats into halftime up, 28-16.
“I think everybody was so concerned over Henry getting his 1,000 that kids felt guilty if they took a shot,” Bill Henry said.
West Shamokin closed the deficit to nine points midway through the third quarter but faded as Kittanning's bevy of 6-foot-plus players applied effective half-court pressure. Damon Craig and Anthony Rocco each finished with a team-high 12 points.
“For us, that's probably the best part of the deal,” West Shamokin coach Mike Nagy said. “If we get a tough draw, we'll probably be playing somebody of that caliber. … I thought we battled hard and hustled hard. We did the best we could with what we have.”
Both teams will learn their playoff opponents Tuesday night during the WPIAL pairings meeting.