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Open Mike Column: A reporter’s blunder as 1,000-point accolades begin piling up for locals

Frontier senior forward Natalie Galus is slated to become the third local during the 2012-13 season to eclipse the 1,000-point mark. Immaculata's Taylor Heinold has already done it and North Collins' Jared Keppel is about to as well.

In addition to being accurate, astute and on top of the news, the top priority of a reporter is to be prepared.

While some would argue I need to be working on the first three, I’m usually prepared for what I plan to cover. However, I cannot say the same as I pulled up at Immaculata Academy on Tuesday (Jan. 8) night.

I wanted to check in just to see if senior Taylor Heinold would record her career 1,000th point. Problem is she needed 30 points, which seemed like a long shot, and it being deadline night, the sports section was all but done except for a small opening left for the Frontier/Will. North boys basketball game I planned to hit next that night.

Basically, I had to guess whether that 1,000th point would be scored that night, and let’s just say I guessed wrong. Heinold reached the mark during a 31-point night, her final two coming on a late jump shot with 12 seconds left. To make matters worse, I didn’t bring a camera for the celebration shot.

So, more than a week and a borrowed Immaculata photo later, Heinold was recognized in this week’s Sun for her accomplishment. In light of the situation, I wanted to thank Immaculata head coach Andrea Drabik for the photo provided and congratulate Taylor on her accomplishment and helping to expose this ill-prepared reporter.

Remarkably, there are two other locals closing in on the same 1,000-point mark for their career and for one of them, ironically, a Heinold will again be involved.

Jared Keppel is set to become only the second North Collins player to reach that mark. The senior is just one point shy as he rolls through another remarkable season of dominant offense. The only other North Collins player to reach 1,000 is Hamburg resident Chris Heinold, Taylor’s father.

Eagles’ head coach Rob Catalino is planning to stop the game on Thursday (Feb. 17) to present a 1,000-point ball to Keppel once that point is scored. After the game, which starts at 7:30 p.m., Catalino will hold a gathering at the school in celebration. He’s also asked the aforementioned Chris Heinold to be at the game to help honor Keppel.

Keppel, who was second in scoring in all of Western New York last year, has continued on the same torrid pace over the first 12 games. His lowest output this year is 20 points, and that was in a game he sat for most of a quarter with four fouls.

Catalino, in his second year as the team’s head coach, acknowledged just how hard it is these days for a public school player to hit the 1,000-point mark. Public schools now play only an 18-game regular season.

“With an 18-game season and factoring in maybe two playoff games, you need to average over a career 16.7 points in those 60 games,” Catalino noted. “That’s not easy to do.”

Also slated to reach 1,000 is Frontier four-year starting forward Natalie Galus, who’s 46 points away. If she scores her average, she’ll come close to reaching it in just two games, which could mean she'll get it done on Thursday, Jan. 17, but it would be on the road at West Seneca West.

Head coach Rick Mihalik’s wife just gave birth so he was a little busy, to say the least, to speak about the matter, but I’ll look into what the team is planning. With two more 1,000-point scorers on the way, probably on the same night, unfortunately I can’t promise to be any more prepared this time around.

Renewed energy in rivalry

It’s fun to see some of the energy in the rivalry between Hamburg and Frontier return since the announcement of the Challenge Cup being brought back earlier this school year.

The energy is not only in the student-athletes, but also in the friendly rivalry between the school’s athletics directors. Hamburg AD Greg Witman and Frontier AD Rich Gray both seem to be having some fun with the competition between the two schools.

Witman admitted to texting Gray after the Bulldogs won the latest round of competition between the rivals in girls basketball before the holiday break. At the time, Frontier was holding on to a slim 14-12 lead. I’m sure Gray hasn’t hesitated to do the same after a Frontier victory. It’s all in good fun.

The two should be commended for helping bring back this tradition, which was on hiatus since the late 1980s. Expect that the race to win the cup goes down to the wire in the spring.

E-mail Mike Petro at or follow him on Twitter at MikePetroTheSun.


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