The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 7, 2013

Jon Gerardi's high school boys basketball column: Milestone achieved in loss


Daily Item

---- — Everyone inside of Donald Eichorn Middle School in Lewisburg on Monday kept anxiously waiting. Every shot that went up was another opportunity for Chad Diggan to hit the milestone.

The 6-foot senior entered the Heartland Athletic Conference crossover game 17 points shy of the 1,000-point threshold and against a tough Lewisburg team, he'd have to work for every one of those 17 points.

Slowly but surely, Diggan kept sinking basket after basket.

Seven points after the first quarter. Nine as Milton went into the half. Thirteen after three.

The game almost became secondary for Milton fans in attendance. A 20-point deficit at times was in the back of their minds as Diggan kept launching up shots.

As the magic number got smaller and smaller, the fans in attendance for Milton were more than excited. Those final three points, however, seemed to be the toughest for Diggan to finally get.

Every trey he put up, every Milton fan collectively gasped, only to see it come up short.

"(Each shot) kept rimming it out, that sucks when that happens," Diggan said with a bit of a laugh after Monday's 70-49 loss to Lewisburg.

With 4:01 to play, Diggan let go a beautiful shot that he, and majority of the Milton fans, thought was a good 3-pointer that would've given him exactly 1,000 points only to see the referee put up two fingers, as his foot was on the line.

"I shot it and it went in and I was just waiting (for a reaction). And I was like 'this isn't what I expected to happen. I thought people would (cheer),'" Diggan said.

It didn't take much longer for Diggan to get that final point as he put up a nice shot inside the paint against a Lewisburg defender with 2:38 to play. Diggan was congratulated by teammates, his parents and those in attendance with a round of applause as the Milton cheerleaders held up a banner for his accomplishment.

"It got to the point (where) it was just a matter of time. You could see he was anxious. That three that he hit that was apparently a two, his feet were all messed up. I can't believe he even made that shot," Milton coach Steve DeLong said. "I'm happy for him. Now that he's got that, maybe he can relax a little bit more because anybody in his position would want to reach that mark. It's a big individual accomplishment. I'm sure he's relieved that it's over. I'm relieved that it's over. Now we can just focus on finishing out the season and getting ready for playoffs."

What makes Diggan's 1,000-point mark perhaps even more special for the senior is the fact he's done it in only the regular seasons of his career. Since Diggan first put on the black and orange Milton uniform, the Black Panthers have only had losing seasons, never quite being able to hit that 11-win season to make it into the District 4 playoffs. So Diggan's run of 1,000 career points has come all in the minimum amount of games each season.

Add the fact that Diggan and his Black Panthers are finally postseason- bound this year, and it makes that 1,000-point mark even sweeter.

"It's a lot better to get 1,000 when you're actually winning instead of getting 1,000 on a team that wins like two games," Diggan said. "That's cool, but that tells me that there's not much there and you get the ball whenever you want. This year it's more spread out. It feels a lot better that you score like a normal player would."

Diggan has led Milton offensively for the past three seasons and is one of the leading scorers for the Black Panthers again this year, averaging 14.2 ppg., second only in Milton to teammate Michael Jacobs' 14.4.

"He's a great player and I'm happy for him. He deserves it," DeLong said.

n Jon Gerardi covers high school boys basketball for The Daily Item. Email comments to jgerardi@dailyitem.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Jonidial.