Puni and Howard make history

Two Spartans on the boys basketball team have made history, joining a very small group of athletes who have achieved the feat of scoring 1,000 career points. Both seniors Ryan Howard and Derrick Puni have accomplished this feat during the season. On Tuesday, January 22nd, senior forward Derrick Puni was the first this season to make history, becoming the fourth boys basketball player in Spartan history up to that point to eclipse the 1,000 point mark.

During the game, which ended in a tough overtime loss to Zumwalt West, Puni made a layup which kept the Spartans within reach of Zumwalt West’s lead. When it was known that he had eclipsed 1,000 points, the game was momentarily halted as Activities Director Mr. Scott Harris took the time to head onto the court for a brief, but very monumental celebration. Harris shook Puni’s hand and presented him with the game ball he scored his historic 1,000th point with, while both the Spartan and Jaguar fans applauded in a large standing ovation.

“It felt good because it’s something that not a lot of people are able to do in high school, so it was really cool to reach that milestone,” Puni said.

Puni, to say the least, was shocked when they stopped the game for his milestone to be announced.

“I was a little surprised when they stopped the game, but it felt good to be recognized,” Puni said.

This achievement is something that Puni holds very close to his heart.

“It meant a lot to me because only a select few people can say they’ve scored 1,000 points in their high school career,” Puni explained.

During the preseason, little was known on how well Puni would perform, due to a serious hand injury he suffered during football season. It hasn’t seemed to phase him, as he scored 37 points against Zumwalt West last week, and 20 against Mehlville on Tuesday.

The first three players to eclipse the 1,000 point mark for boys basketball were Mike Parson (1192 points), Brian Midden (1043), and Ben Cherven (1023). Puni has since surpassed both Midden and Cherven to become the second highest scorer in Spartan history.

“I think it’s pretty cool he’s in second all time for Central,” Wyatt said. Jokingly, he added that he was jealous of Puni’s accomplishments.

In 2012, Puni was voted by fans from schools across the conference as the “GAC South Player of the Year,” and won by a large margin, as Puni received 95% of the votes that year (1,078 votes). No other player nominated garnered more than 4 votes in total.

While he isn’t exactly sure how close he is to Mike Parson’s all time scoring record, Puni says that isn’t his main concern regardless.

“My main focus right now is winning Districts,” Puni explained.

Puni, who is only games away from finishing his high school athletic career, depending on how far the Spartan’s playoff run is, says basketball has had a profound impact on his life over the years, and he has an amazing group of guys to thank for that.

“I have learned the value of a team, because without my teammates and coaches, none of this would be possible,” Puni said.

Almost a month later, senior forward Ryan Howard passed the 1,000 point mark against Mehlville on Tuesday, February 19th. This is the first time two Spartans have done so in the same season.

“It was an unreal feeling, and a great relief,” Howard said. “Now I can focus on helping the team win.”

Howard says this year is especially historic because two people made the achievement.

“Well, reaching the mark of 1000 career points is a pretty rare feat, so both of us doing it in the same year was really special to me,” Howard added.

With Central ending their year on a winning streak, they look to win Districts (which will be hosted at Central), and go as far as they can in the playoffs.