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Grand moments: John Earle, Jon Morrison celebrate surpassing 1,000 career points

  • Mitch Medina, left, of Belchertown, and Jon Morrison, of Hopkins Academy, go after a loose ball, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at Hopkins. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jon Morrison, of Hopkins Academy, scores his 1,000th career point with a free throw against Belchertown, Tuesday at Hopkins. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • John Earle, of Hopkins Academy, shoots against Belchertown, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at Hopkins. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • John Earle, right, of Hopkins Academy, passes against Nathan Wright, of Belchertown, Tuesday. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jon Morrison, right, of Hopkins Academy, shoots against Collin Laramee, of Belchertown, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at Hopkins. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jon Morrison, left, of Hopkins Academy, celebrates after scoring his 1000th career point with a free throw against Belchertown, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at Hopkins. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jon Morrison, right, of Hopkins Academy, gets a hug from his assistant coach Sean O'Connell after scoring his 1000th career point with a free throw against Belchertown, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at Hopkins. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jon Morrison, right, of Hopkins Academy, gets a gift from Owen Earle after scoring his 1,000th career point with a free throw against Belchertown, Tuesday in Hadley. Owen is a brother of John Earle, who scored his 1,000th career point earlier in the game. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The Hopkins Academy team swarms Jon Morrison, center, after he scored his 1000th career point during a game against Belchertown, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at Hopkins. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hopkins Academy players Jon Morrison, center, and John Earle, right, celebrate Morrison's 1000th career point during a game against Belchertown, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at Hopkins. Earle scored his 1000th career point earlier in the game. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jon Morrison, center, of Hopkins Academy, with his father, Andrew, sister, Nicole, mother, Sharyn, and brother, Brett. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hopkins Academy guard John Earle, center, celebrates with his family after scoring 1,000 career points, Tuesday against Belchertown in Hadley. THOMAS PITTA

  • Hopkins Academy guard John Earle, right, celebrates with coach Angelo Thomas scoring 1,000 career points, Tuesday against Belchertown in Hadley. THOMAS PITTA

  • Hopkins Academy guard John Earle shoots a 3-pointer to surpass 1,000 career points, Tuesday against Belchertown in Hadley. THOMAS PITTA



@kylegrbwsk
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

HADLEY — Two sets of balloons were tucked under the Hopkins Academy bleachers, just in case.

The Golden Hawks boys basketball team planned to honor John Earle joining its 1,000-point club. He needed 14 points against Belchertown on Tuesday. A counter taped to the gym’s west wall tracked his distance from the milestone.

Jon Morrison figured he’d celebrate his friend’s 1,000th point and reach his own comma-anointed mark in a couple games. He needed 34 points, which would have been a career high. Morrison scored 30 as a freshman and hadn’t hit the mark in the three years since.

By the end of the game, Hopkins celebrated an 84-55 victory over Belchertown and both players’ 1,000th points.

“That was truly awesome,” Hopkins coach Angelo Thomas said. “It couldn’t happen to two better kids. They would be just as happy if someone else scored 1,000 points.”

The Golden Hawks (6-1) opened the game running Earle from the baseline past a back screen to the 3-point line for an open shot. He missed that and his first three shots of the night.

“We just came out like we normally do, push the ball,” Earle said. “Coach said just run the offense and it’ll come to me.”

His first field goal was a 3-pointer with 3 minutes, 24 seconds left in the first quarter that put Hopkins up 10-6. Earle added a layup through contact and a free throw by the end of the first quarter to finish with six points.

He’d settled in by the start of the second quarter. Earle opened with a transition layup then a putback of his own miss to get to 10 points. He scored another layup on a drive to move within two.

Hopkins had the ball out of bounds underneath the basket with 4:01 left until halftime. On the inbounds play, Earle shook free off a screen from Justin Butterfield and headed to the right corner. Braeden Tudryn fired him a pass at his hip. Earle looked at the space in front of him for a brief moment and hoisted a 3. The ball touched the rim and spun down.

“Kind of ironic that he hit it on a 3-pointer,” Thomas joked. Earle has more than 150 3s in his career.

Hopkins runs that play three or four times a game, Thomas said.

“It’s kind of like a trick play that we run,” Earle said. “It just happened that no one was guarding me at that point. They lost track of me.”

Justin Ciaglo buried him in a hug before the rest of the team arrived. Wiz Khalifa’s “We Dem Boyz” blared over the speakers, as Hopkins athletic director Erik Sudnick brought out one set of the balloons.

“It was crazy. It happened so fast,” Earle said. “I just heard people yelling.”

Earle posed for pictures with his family before the game resumed.

After the timeout, Hopkins built a 41-26 lead by the half. Morrison had 10 points at the break after scoring eight in the second quarter.

His 1,000th career point still seemed a game away. Then he scored 14 points in the third quarter, using deft footwork to maneuver around Belchertown (4-5) defenders.

Going into the fourth quarter with a 64-38 lead, Hopkins began forcing the ball to Morrison to try and get him to 1,000 at home since Hopkins plays its next two games on the road.

“Somebody said, ‘He’s only 12 points away,’ I looked at (Morrison’s) dad and I said, ‘You’re not gonna like what’s going to happen right now, but it’s going to happen,” Thomas said.

Hopkins changed its 1,000-point counter to “Jon” needs eight points with 6:26 left. Belchertown started double-teaming him with three minutes remaining.

“I didn’t want the other team to think that we were showing them up with what’s happening,” Thomas said. “We had everybody in the house tonight. It was fitting that it happened here.”

With 2:43 left, Morrison needed three points. Tudryn fed him a bounce pass in the post, past a charging Cyrus Raines going for the steal. Morrison drop-stepped past Zachary Wrona on the right block and made a layup despite taking a shot to the head. The referee whistled for a foul, sending Morrison to the free-throw line needing one point for 1,000.

“I didn’t really feel any pressure,” Morrison said. “I probably take 50 to 100 free throws a week. It’s second nature at this point.”

He swished the free throw, flexed and screamed as his team encircled him. Sudnick brought out the second pair of balloons, and Morrison stood for pictures with his family.

Hopkins hadn’t planned on celebrating two 1,000-point scorers. Sharing the moment with a friend proved the highlight for both of them.

“That’s awesome,” Earle said.

“That was by far the best part,” Morrison said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.