By COURTNEY LAMDIN
with additional reporting by JOSH KAUFMANN
Scoring 1,000 points in a high school basketball career is no small feat, and last week’s hard-fought victory over Mt. Abraham saw Ian Jennings celebrate the accomplishment.
Jennings, a 17-year-old senior, broke the 1,000-point mark for his career, becoming the fourth Milton boy to reach that pinnacle in school history.
“It is a team accomplishment as well as an individual accomplishment,” head coach Chris Brown told the Milton Independent. “Ian has dedicated more time to the game of basketball than any other player I have coached. He so deserves this, and I am just so darn proud of him and his teammates.”
Jennings hit the milestone in the fourth quarter with a free throw earned on a hard drive to the basket. He started the match needing 21 points and got nine in the first half that was surprisingly dominated by the Eagles, seeking become the first Lake Division team to beat Milton.
The forward added points throughout the intense game, scoring his 998th and 999th points on a pair of free throws — he’s shot a superb 92 percent from the line this winter — and it was another foul shot that made the mark.
Jennings scored 24 points on the night, finishing with a total of 1,003 points with eight regular-season games and playoffs remaining. He grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds.
So far, Jennings is fifth on the all-time scoring list at MHS. Brent Kendall (1989-92) holds the record with 1,950, followed by Brown’s son, Ryan (2014-17), with 1,149; Derryk O’Grady (2010-13) with 1,044, and Jason Oliver (2001-04) with 1,027.
Given all these wins, the Indy wanted to hear from the man himself. We asked Jennings a few questions about his basketball career, and about Milton’s quest for a return to the Barre Aud after reaching the Division II championship game last year. His responses are below.
MI: How long have you played basketball, and who are your biggest role models in the sport?
IJ: I’ve been playing basketball my whole life, but I really started to better myself in the the 7th grade. My favorite basketball player is Kyrie Irving [of the Boston Celtics], but my role model is L.A. Lakers’ Lebron James because of his impact on and off the court.
MI: What do you like most about the sport?
IJ: My favorite part about basketball is it’s a chance to get away and build relationships, while learning real life lessons that you’ll carry for the rest of your life.
MI: How do you prepare for a game? Do you have any rituals?
IJ: I try to get shots up before every game, especially home games when our gym is available.
MI: What’s it been like playing on the Milton team this year?
IJ: We’ve had our ups and downs early on as all teams do, but we’ve come together and everyone’s focused on the same goal: To return to Barre and cut the net.
MI: Did you ever set out to score 1,000 points? Now that you have, how does it feel?
IJ: I was fortunate enough to be around and play with Ryan Brown, while having Derryk O’Grady as a coach and mentor. So I always had it in my mind because I was around people with the same goal and work ethic. It feels great, and I worked hard for it but now I’m focused on our team getting to Barre.
MI: At one point during your winning game, you went into the stands to hug your mom. Describe that moment.
IJ: My mom is my everything. She got me into the game and is my biggest supporter. I owe everything to her, so the hug was special. I just told her I loved her and gave her the ball because I wouldn’t be in the same position without her.
MI: Who are some teammates whose passing abilities helped you reach this accomplishment?
IJ: I owe a lot of my scoring and teams success to Seth Herrity last year. Andrew Harvey has been a good facilitator on the court this year so I’d say him. We’ve been playing since the start so he always knows where I’ll be ready to shoot.
MI: How do you maintain focus on the game when there are hundreds of people in the stands?
IJ: I don’t really get nervous or think about people-watching. When I step on the court, I’m there to play.
MI: If you can get back to Barre in the playoffs, how will it help to have played two games there last year?
IJ: The Aud gets loud and the energy can shift at any time. If we were to return, I’d think we’d have a good advantage dealing with pressure.
MI: Anything else you want to tell your fans?
IJ: Thank you to the Milton community for being supportive, and make sure to check out our remaining home games!