OAK HILL — It’s now officially 1K for J.J.
That’s because Wheelersburg senior J.J.Truitt, with himself needing 16 points and actually Wheelersburg benefiting greatly from them, scored his 1,000th career point on Friday night — in the Pirates’ 70-42 Southern Ohio Conference Division II boys basketball victory at Oak Hill.
Truitt, basically a basketball lifer already in his young years, paced the Pirates with 17 points on seven field goals —13 of which came in the first half as he splashed three three-pointers.
His final four points came within a matter of 52 seconds —when Truitt’s layup made it 56-25 with two minutes and 27 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Then, finally, gaining inside position about three feet from the rim and on the basket’s right side, Truitt — the returning all-Southeast District Division III first-teamer — tallied his 1,000th at the 1:39 mark.
At that point — and with Wheelersburg actually staking its largest lead — the game was stopped, Truitt was recognized, Pirate fans in attendance held up their “1,000-point” signs, and coach Steven Ater took Truitt out of the game but first greeted him with a huge hug.
“As soon as you pick up a basketball, it’s (scoring 1,000 points) something you think about. All the hard work and achievements that go into this,” said Truitt, following the game. “But it’s a team effort, even though it’s an individual accomplishment. I’ve thought about this ever since I picked up a basketball.”
Truitt also scored 17 in the Pirates’ 50-point (89-39) rout of the Oaks a week ago (Tuesday Dec. 15), as Oak Hill and Wheelersburg were able to — thanks to some shifty scheduling — go ahead and complete their season series on Friday night.
The Oaks originally were set to host Waverly, while Wheelersburg was originally scheduled to welcome Northwest.
With those two teams in quarantine caused by the coronavirus situation, the Pirates played at Oak Hill instead —and Truitt got his second 17 in three days.
Ideally, he wanted to surpass the milestone at home, but scoring 1,000 is still scoring 1,000.
“I wish it was at home, because it would have been fun with our cheerleaders and everybody there, but I’ll take it here,” he said. “It’s okay.”
Truitt was more than just okay on Friday night, as he helped propel the Pirates to a 22-11 lead with five first-quarter points — a deuce on a baseline jumper to cap off a dozen unanswered and a three-ball immediately after Oak Hill scored to stop that 12-0 run.
Although Oak Hill hung tough, and got to within six at 24-18 on a Gavin Howell three, Truitt turned the tide from there with a personal eight unanswered —rattling in two more trifectas sandwiched around a coast-to-coast layup which made it 29-20.
Over the final five-and-a-half minutes of the second stanza, the Pirates outscored the underdog Oaks 14-4.
Wheelersburg’s experience, strength, size, speed and athleticism only accelerated in the third quarter, as the defending SOC II champions chalked up 22 more markers — compared to only six for the Oaks.
In between, Truitt tried to get that 1,000th point —whether it was on his one free-throw attempt or multiple three-point tries before finally scoring on the interior.
Truth be told, all 17 of Truitt’s points proved important at the time he scored them.
“They were all big points,” he said. “Oak Hill came out and played us pretty tough. We knew the second time they would come out and play physical with us. I was able to stick to my head and stay focused and help my team win tonight.”
For Ater, it was a proud coach to player moment.
“I’m just so proud of and happy for J.J., and it just shows all the hard work and hours and sweat he has poured into his game. He has raised his skill level every year,” said the coach. “It also shows his longevity in a career. He has been a four-year starter for us and a leader for us and a two-year captain. He dedicates his time to it and loves the work which goes into it and the process you have to go through. There’s a lot of four-year guys who still can’t get 1,000, just because they don’t have the skills that he does. He probably would have gotten this earlier, but he is such a well-rounded and an unselfish player. It’s really an unselfish 1,000 points he got. Glad he got it and glad he got to enjoy it here tonight with his teammates in a win.”
Those teammates include fellow senior Matthew Miller, who scored his jersey number 12 on three field goals and 5-of-6 free throws.
Carter McCorkle on four field goals and two foul shots, Eli Swords on two twos and two threes, and Kenny Sanderlin on four field goals and a freebie all totaled 10 points apiece.
After Truitt made his third and final three for the 32-22 advantage, the sophomore Sanderlin scored Wheelersburg’s final three first-half baskets.
“We knew Oak Hill would be different this game. They came out in a zone, slowed the game down, and hung around. Kenny scoring three in a row right there at the end of the second quarter gave us a nice spark. We had a lot of guys in double figures for balanced scoring, and that’s what we strive for,” said Ater. “When we get four or five guys in double figures, that makes us even more dangerous. From night to night, it gives us a lot of balance and keeps guys confident and keeps them in rhythm.”
The Pirates posted 26 field goals to the Oaks’ 14, as Aidan Hall spearheaded Oak Hill with 16 points on five field goals and 6-of-7 foul shots.
Oak Hill hit six threes to come within one of the Pirates’ seven, including a pair apiece by Howell and Landon Hines.
The Oaks, which endured a quarantine after the Thanksgiving holiday, are under the direction of first-year head coach Heath McKinniss —who served seven seasons as an assistant to Norm Persin.
“It was different to have a three-day turnaround like that against the same team, but it was kind of exciting to see how we would respond. We’re still dealing with some conditioning issues where we had 10 days off, and we had another five-day break prior to that,” said McKinniss. “We made that run in the second quarter, but we got tired and hindsight being 20-20, I probably should have called timeout to just let us rest. But we competed the entire game, and obviously Wheelersburg is very good, very skilled and they have everybody back from last year. We got tired, got into some foul trouble, made a few mistakes and they took over like an experienced team does.”
Of course, Truitt took charge first —as his historic night ended by scoring his 1,000th career point.
Wheelersburg, with the win, raised its perfect record to 4-0 —both overall and in the league.
The Oaks, meanwhile, fell to 1-3 —with both conference contests coming against the Pirates.
Both clubs will face Minford for their next games — with Wheelersburg traveling to the Falcons’ Nest on Tuesday night as Oak Hill hosts the Falcons for a makeup matchup on Wednesday night.
Both bouts are SOC II tilts.
Wheelersburg 22 16 22 10— 70
Oak Hill 11 11 6 14 — 42
WHEELERSBURG 70 (4-0, 4-0 SOC II)
Aaron Jolly 1 0-0 2, Jackson Schwamburger 0 0-0 0, Matthew Miller 3 5-6 12, Eli Swords 4 0-0 10, Nolan Wright 0 2-2 2, Carter McCorkle 4 2-8 10, J.J. Truitt 7 0-1 17, Gage Adkins 1 0-0 2, Braxton Rase 0 0-0, Kaden Johnson 1 0-2 2, Caleb Arthur 1 1-2 3, Cooper McKenzie 0 0-0 0, Kenny Sanderlin 4 1-4 10; TOTALS 26 11-25 70; Three-point field goals: 7 (J.J. Truitt 3, Eli Swords 2, Matthew Miller and Kenny Sanderlin 1 apiece)
OAK HILL 42 (1-3, 0-2 SOC II)
Garrett McKinniss 0 0-1 0, Connor Clark 0 0-0 0, Brock Harden 0 1-2 1, Landon Hines 2 0-2 6, Nathan Hall 0 0-0 0, Aidan Hall 5 6-7 16, Gavin Howell 2 0-0 6, Kade Kinzel 3 1-2 8, Johnnie Mullett 1 0-0 3, Kameron Maple 0 0-1 0, Braylon Howell 1 0-0 2, Garred Stiltner 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 14 8-15 42; Three-point field goals: 6 (Landon Hines and Gavin Howell 2 apiece, Kade Kinzel and Johnnie Mullett 1 apiece)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved