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North Collins’ Keppel turns into elite scorer

North Collins’ senior Jared Keppel averaged 23 points last year and is on his way to 1,000 for his career. (Photo by Michael J. Petro)

North Collins may not be a flashy basketball school, never having won a Section VI title playing among the smallest of programs in Western New York, but one of its players has put up numbers that rank him among the best in the Buffalo-area.

Jared Keppel finished last season second among all Western New York scorers with 23 points per game, to go along with a 10-rebound average as the Eagles’ power forward. He scored so much last year that entering this season as a three-year varsity starter, Keppel has a chance to become only the second North Collins player to eclipse 1,000 career points. He’ll need to average 17 points per game and stay healthy to reach the feat.

“For a three-year guy, especially with the season being cut down to 18 games (by the state), to have a chance at 1,000 points that means you’re scoring a lot of points,” North Collins head coach Rob Catalino said. “He will get his points. If he can score from the outside too and be a leader and gets rebounds, I’m hoping he can get his 1,000 points. But he’s going to have to work for it.”

While Keppel enjoys putting up the big numbers, he likes even better when it helps his team win games, which has also not always been easy. North Collins finished 10-9 and were ousted in an opening round playoff loss last season, so getting past that quarterfinal is driving him this year.

“Last year, our team was able to build a nice bond so we all have trust in each other and we feel like we can make it to the sectional final,” Keppel said. “I just want to keep doing what I’m doing and for us to keep winning games.”

In order for that to happen, Catalino said it is critical that Keppel add another dimension to his game by stepping outside to knock down shots, including three-pointers. he sees opponent doubling and tripling Keppel this season in the paint.

“He’s got to get used to trying to get open,” Catalino noted. “He’s got to score some points from the outside. His shot has come a long way.”

While working in close to the basket and driving may be his strengths, Keppel has been very willing to add the outside shot to his repertoire.

“I’m trying to improve my three-point shooting,” said Keppel, who played with his North Collins’ teammates in the Hamburg Recreation League over the summer and can often be found shooting around at the school despite also starring on the soccer and baseball teams. “I’m just trying to be more versatile so I can score more points and we can win more games.”

Catalino would like to add to the mostly barren basketball banners at the school, which laud only one divisional title in about six to seven decades of play. Keppel couldn’t agree more.

“I think about (scoring 1,000 points) but I just really want to win the sectional title. At least, just experience getting there,” Keppel said.

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