NTL BOYS' BASKETBALL: CANTON'S NIEMCZYK GETS PAST 1,000 POINTS IN WIN OVER MONTGOMERY
(2022-01-10)BY CHRIS MANNINGNorthern Tier Sports Report
CANTON — It was a long journey for Canton’s Isaiah Niemczyk to get to Monday night against Montgomery, but when he had the chance to get his 1,000th point, he took it. Niemczyk buried a jumper just above the foul line to earn the mark, as the Warriors rolled to a 66-36 win over Montgomery in non-league boys’ basketball action Monday.
“It feels pretty good,” said Niemczyk. “I’ve been working out a lot since my freshman year until now to get my 1,000 points. So, working as a team to get my 1,000th point, and I have team and personal goals, and this happens to be one of my personal goals.”
His coach Brock Kitchen knows the journey Niemczyk’s taken to get this far. Niemczyk is the same grade as his son, Cooper Kitchen, and he’s been able to watch the senior grow.
“The kid’s come a long ways,” said Kitchen. “I told a story at the Waverly Summer Camp this summer that Isaiah wasn’t even on our travel team as an elementary kid - wasn’t even on the travel team - and that kid worked hard. He grew about seven inches, he dedicated three summers in a row - he went up and worked out with Tony Lindsay - so he played a lot of AAU ball with Tony, and he gave him a lot of stuff to work on. I can’t be prouder, the kid deserves it, a hard worker, and I know it means a lot to him, too.”
This was no secret, either, as his sister Laci Niemczyk had a poster counting down the points.
“I played a little more nervous,” admitted Isaiah. “But I know my scoring would come to me, and I would just play my game, and score what I need to score.”
Niemczyk needed 19 entering the game, and bagged two jumpers in the first quarter. After a slow start in the second, he would hit two 3-pointers to more than cut his total in half by the break.
In the third the Raiders - down by 19 points - were focused solely on trying to stop Niemczyk. They shaded his way on defense, then ultimately out right double teamed him.
He took advantage of the added attention to get inside, and get to the free throw line, making 4-of-6 to start the third.
That was followed by a lay-up, which cut it to three points. Then, with the quarter winding down, Niemczyk moved without the ball, as his teammates found him, and he hit back to back jumpers from nearly the same spot to get his milestone.
The senior knew in the third quarter, with Canton holding a big lead, it was now or never.
“(Coach Kitchen) got in a huddle, and he said he didn’t really want to keep us in much longer,” explained Niemczyk. “So, he just told me to score, slowly do what I do, and to score.”
The senior class across the NTL is as talented and deep as there has been in a generation, and Niemczyk is glad to make his mark on it.
“It feels good to stand out, and just get my own 1,000 point to stand out from a lot of the other seniors,” he remarked. Niemczyk is Canton’s first 1,000 point scorer since Eddie Larcom and Emmett Watson both hit the mark within a week of each other back in 2013.
He finished with 20 points, as Caiden Williams had a double-double of 18 points and 15 rebounds, with both of them overwhelming the undersized Raiders.
Cooper Kitchen added nine, Weston Bellows notched seven, Gavin Morse and Kyle Kapichok had four points a piece, with Conner Foust and Ashton Rockwell rounding things out with two points each.
It might have been Niemczyk’s night, but it was Williams who had the fast start, scoring six first quarter points on three lay-ups on the offensive end, while blocking three shots on the defensive side, to help the Warriors to a 13-4 lead.
Williams’ strong play continued into the second quarter, netting 10 points - all of them on put backs or lay-ups - while the team had three 3-pointers, including the two from Niemczyk.
The third quarter, though, was all Niemczyk, as he had 10 points to lead the Warriors, who built a 58-24 before the final frame.
The Warriors are hitting their stride at the right time, being winners of four straight - all of them by double digits - as they get deeper into divisional play.
“We’re starting to play better,” said coach Kitchen. “Like I said, I told the kids, let’s get to Christmas, and then, I think, things will hopefully start to fall into place. Everybody’s starting to catch up physically, now, with Isaiah, getting their legs back, and we’re starting to play well right now. I’m happy with how we’re playing.”
With the big individual goal out of the way, Niemczyk now has a few team goals to hit, and there’s no better time to start than on their next game on Wednesday. Wyalusing is coming to town - the District IV, Class AA defending champions - and, if Canton wants to stay on top of the division, they’ll need to beat the Rams.
“We’re feeling pretty good that we’re going to beat the teams we need to beat,” said Niemczyk.
PHOTO CAPTION: Canton’s Isaiah Niemczyk makes a jump shot to surpass 1,000 points…PHOTOS BY CHRIS MANNING
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