|Azar Swain is honored after scoring his 2,000th career point in the first half of Rivers win over Roxbury Latin|
By Nate Weitzer (@Nweitzer7)
WESTON, Mass. - With a tough floater midway through the first half of a 69-59 Independent School League win over Roxbury Latin on Monday evening, Rivers School senior Azar Swain became the 67th player in state history to net 2,000 career points.
The 6-foot-1 senior from Brockton entered the contest with 1,995 career points and reached the 2,000-point plateau just over six minutes into the contest. He went on to finish with a game-high 31 points and added 10 rebounds in a comeback win.
“It’s a blessing and a testament to how hard I’ve worked,” Swain said about the momentous achievement. “I never aimed to get 2,000 [points], but I wanted to prove throughout these four years that I could score at all levels.”
It’s impressive to note that Swain didn’t record any of his points until he made the varsity basketball team as a freshman. He reached the 1,000-point plateau last December as a junior, so the sharpshooter was certainly busy during the 2016 calendar year while approaching this milestone.
For Rivers (16-9) second-year head coach Keith Zalaski, it’s no coincidence that Swain was able to perform at such a high level with incredible consistency in so many consecutive games.
“There’s a reason [Swain] scored 2,000 points,” Zalaski said. “I get to [Rivers] around 6:30 a.m. some days and he’s in the gym on ‘The Gun’ taking shots. He puts in more time trying to perfect his crafts than anyone I’ve met.”
With his 31 points on the night, Swain set the school record even higher with 2,026 points in his career. The two-sport star also holds Rivers all-time record in career touchdowns.
Swain will attend head to Yale to play basketball next year, but before that he has his sights set on an ISL title and Wednesday’s win over Roxbury Latin went a long way towards that goal.
But the senior admitted that the 2,000-point barrier created a bit of a distraction early in this contest.
“I could feel the anticipation from the start and there was some pressure off my back once that shot went down,” Swain said. “That might have been a little distraction and it was good to get that out of the way. I think my team got some pressure of their backs and we were able to rally after that.”
Rivers trailed 33-31 at the half, but went on a 23-6 run midway through the fourth quarter to take complete control, as Villanova-bound forward Jermaine Samuels (25 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) did a bit of everything to impress the home crowd and his future college coach Jay Wright, who happened to be in attendance.
In the end, Swain and Samuels combined for 56 of Rivers’ 69 points and 21 of the team’s 27 rebounds to carry their younger teammates in an important win with fellow starters Andrew Snoddy, Jay Dieterle and Tyler Aronson all out due to injury.
“We’re a little undermanned right now with three of our starters out and luckily we still have [Swain] and Jermaine [Samuels],” began Zalaski
“At times we had multiple freshmen out there with an eighth grader and it’s nice when those guys can look at [Samuels and Swain] because they really instill confidence in guys who haven’t really been there before.”
Not only has Swain been in plenty of pressure positions on the hardwood, but he can now say that he’s in an exclusive club with only 66 other members, male and female, throughout the lengthy history of Massachusetts high school basketball.
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Swain fights for his 2,000th point the hard way, becomes first Rivers player to reach the milestone @GlobeSchools @masspreps pic.twitter.com/MgLypTXMCQ— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) February 15, 2017
Swain with another tough bucket but Rivers trails RL 33-29 late first half @masspreps pic.twitter.com/Dug0BOYy6g— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) February 15, 2017
Jermaine Samuels C2C for a dunk and-1. Rox Latin 48, Rivers 47 7:30 remaining @masspreps @HerewegoJoe pic.twitter.com/X9PiMLXOiz— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) February 15, 2017
Swain with a game-high 29 as Rivers leads 56-52 w/ 4:33 remaining @masspreps pic.twitter.com/xMXJonT9dW— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) February 15, 2017
Jermaine Samuels finds Colin Corrigan for 3 and then steals and scores for 2 more. Rivers running away up 65-54 2:19 remaining @masspreps pic.twitter.com/sotNqN0iMk— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) February 15, 2017