Thursday January 24, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Jared Keppel goes up for a basket in a game earlier this season. It was two points toward what’s now a career 1,000-plus. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)
The gym at North Collins was more packed for a game than Jared Keppel had ever seen it before.
Many of them were there to watch as the senior made some history for the Eagles’ basketball program, becoming the second North Collins’ player ever to reach 1,000 points.
For their support, the three-year starting forward was very appreciative. Coming into the game with 999 points, he delivered 1,000 and 1,001 in the first few minutes of a 58-43 loss to Clymer on Thursday (Jan. 17) on a lay-in off a pass from Jordan Keough.
“It was nice to get it. It feels like a big relief not having it hanging over my head anymore and now I can just play,” Keppel said several days later in practice. “I was surprised to see how many people came out for it.”
Among those in attendance were many of Keppel’s teammates over the past two seasons. They have witnessed the rise first-hand of last year’s second ranked scorer in all of Western New York, whose continued on that torrid pace in 2012-13.
“A bunch of those kids came out. It was nice of them to support me,” Keppel said. “It made me happy to see that. I couldn’t have done this without all of them.”
Clymer actually held Keppel to his lowest point total of the season at 15. Keppel has been averaging nearly 27 points per game, along with being a strong rebounder for a 6-foot-2 center.
“He’s worked very hard. Everybody tries to stop him and he still gets his points,” North Collins head coach Rob Catalino said. “He can shoot from the outside now. He’s got a nice touch on his shots and has gotten better at the free throw line. He’s got good post moves, jumps well and has quick hops. He’s also got good instincts for rebounding, too.”
Keppel may be seeing double and at times triple teams yet he still manages to rack up his points and rebounds at an incredible rate. The past two winters especially have been so good to Keppel that in only three full seasons with the varsity he eclipsed the 1,000-point mark to join Chris Heinold, a 1983 graduate, as the only ones in school history to accomplish the feat.
Heinold, who moved on to play basketball at Canisius College, was there to recognize Keppel. Catalino called Heinold to update him on Keppel’s point total and planned for him to be there on the big night. In an ironic twist, Heinold brought along his daughter, Taylor, who herself just scored 1,000 points for Immaculata, along with youngest daughter, Jordan, a freshman at Immaculata, and his wife, Andrea.
“I knew as long as it didn’t conflict with my girls’ game, I would be happy to be there,” Heinold said a few days before Keppel’s accomplishment. “I know how hard you have to work to get there, so if I figured it would be fun to be there and acknowledge it.”
A standout also in soccer and baseball, Keppel still hopes North Collins can salvage a season that has seen the team loss six straight after a 6-1 start. He said the team’s goal remains to host a Section VI Class D quarterfinal and move on from there.
“We need to win at least three more games (in their last five) to get a home game,” Keppel said. “I’m hoping we can steal one from one of the top teams (Brocton, Sherman or Clymer).”