By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Burlington — Kingsway and Florence saw a historic accomplishment.
Kingsway Regional High School Dragons senior shooting guard R. J. Page scored his 1,000th point in his high school sports career. He is the first player in the past 9-years at Kingsway to reach the 1,000 point plateau.
The last player to reach 1,000 points at Kingsway was Chris Kennedy in 1999. Page helped guide the Dragons to a 57-54 victory last night in a non-Conference match-up with the Florence Flashes last night.
“It means a lot,” said Page. “Every since I started playing basketball sophomore year, it was a goal that I had. I’m happy that I got it. I’m also glad that it’s over with, because not a lot of people got it in my school’s history. My organization has been done for a few years. And I’m just trying to bring it back up. I believe I deserve it!”
“It’s great for the school,” said Kingsway head coach George Passante. “It’s great for the program. It’s great for R. J. It’s something that hasn’t happened at Kingsway since 1999. It shows how far R. J. has come, as an individual and being a team captain, and a kid with a 4.0 GPA. It’s a great, great accomplishment.”
Page scored his 1,000th point on a 2-point jump shot from 18-feet with 1:24 left in the third quarter. Both schools recognized his accomplishments with a break in play, where he was recognized by his coach and his parents presented him with balloons and a gift, while his coach presented him with the game ball.
He is the third player — first visitor player — to reach the 1,000 point plateau at Florence’s new High School gym, as two Florence women’s basketball players accomplished the mark last year.
“I think it’s great to play Florence,” said Coach Passante. “They have a great tradition up here, with their football and basketball programs. Their basketball program has been known to produce a lot of winners and great players. It’s a great opportunity to come up here — and to a great school — with a great atmosphere. They were all very nice to us and they came out to celebrate R. J.’s accomplishment — they gave R. J. a standing ovation, which was nice. I really enjoyed coming up here and playing them.”
Page led all scorers in the game, with a game-high 19 points. He also had 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals in the game.
“I’m happy with it,” said Page. “The whole season I’ve been playing the two guard — and the point guard couldn’t make it (last) night for personal reasons — so I had to switch over to run the point. Big players come up big at the big times.”
For much of the game, it was a close. Kingsway’s largest lead throughout the game was at half-time when they were leading Florence by 10-points. Florence would not have a lead higher than 5-points.
“That’s the way we’ve been playing recently,” said Coach Passante. “We haven’t been playing our best basketball, as of recent, but we knew coming into this game that Florence is as intense and as tough as anybody defensively that we will see. They are very physical and their coaching staff does a great job in the half-court sets. You get nothing easy against them and we knew that coming in. They played hard the entire game. They are very, very difficult to play.”
Kingsway was able to get their halftime lead by making several three-point shots. They had a total of 8 three-point shots in the game.
Rondell Gilmore made 3 three-point shots, with two three-point shots coming in the second half. Page also made 3 three-point shots in the game.
“That’s what we are basically,” said Gilmore. “We are a three-point shooting team. Mostly during practice, we shoot perimeter shots, as we do not have much size inside. I am usually one of the players, who stay after practice to shot extra.”
But, down the stretch, in the last 2-minutes in the game, the Dragons did not make a single three-point shot. The majority of the shots during that time period came from the foul line. They took 12 foul shots during that time, with 8 free throws going into the basket.
“Definitely, it was the key to our victory, because if we didn’t make those foul shots, we wouldn’t have won the game,” said Gilmore. “But we were able to make those foul shots — everybody was able to make their foul shots.”
The game was an end to several high school basketball players careers. Florence’s Quentin Loftin, Steve Giambrone, Marcus Curry, Michael Williford, and Gurpeet Singh were all playing in their final high school basketball game — and final home game.
Yet, for Loftin, it was the first-time all season that he fouled out the game.
“He’s a great player,” said Gilmore. “Defensive wise, he kept on fronting me and besides that, he wanted to go by you or shot a jumper. After he fouled out, they didn’t have anybody to put in his place.”
Singh scored a career-high with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while he also had 1 assist. Curry did not score a basket, but he had 4 rebounds and 1 steal.
Williford had 8 points and 2 rebounds. Loftin had 12 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and 2 steals, before fouling out with 5 minutes left in the game. Giambrone had 10 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. Only two other players scored for Florence.
Brandon Lewis scored 4 points, with 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal. Milorad Milosovici had 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 block, and 1 steal.
Besides Gilmore and Page scoring, Kingsway had several other players. Jared Flynn added 15 points, with 5 rebounds. Tom Dickson had 4 points, with 2 rebounds, while Kyle Stein had 3 points, with 3 rebounds and 1 steal.
“It was really tough for us,” said Page. “Our team is going through a lot of downs right now and we were missing three starters — two to injury and one being in trouble — and we were missing some others, who were sick and did not travel here. It was a struggle, as we don’t have a lot of numbers right now. We were happy to pull it through.”