McNeal-Wright scores 1,000th in Audenried victory

A missed mid-range jump shot by Nisheem McNeal-Wright came first and was followed by his alley-oop attempt gone awry that probably would have thrown the crowd at Audenried into a tizzy.

Instead, family and friends who came to see McNeal-Wright notch career point No. 1,000 had to settle for a free throw when Audenried hosted Sankofa Tuesday afternoon.

McNeal-Wright, a 6-foot-1 senior for the Rockets, didn't seem to mind.

After all, he had already lobbied his coach for the moment to occur at home and not at the team's previous road game.

The Rockets eventually sank Sankofa, 84-66, and McNeal-Wright didn't seem to mind the somewhat anticlimactic nature of the milestone.

"No, it's just a bucket," said McNeal-Wright, smiling. "It doesn't matter how you get it. They're not going to say, 'Oh, he did a 360-degree windmill in the newspaper.' It's going to say '1,000 buckets.' "

After the game, McNeal-Wright posed with friends and family who had made a large cardboard poster with a $1,000 bill sporting McNeal-Wright's face in the middle.

"It feels great that I got to 1,000 points," he said. "I'm so excited I got it."

He finished with 24 points. Terence Moore led the Rockets (11-1, 7-1) with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Shaheed Fagan-Haynes added 17 points.

Sankofa (8-8, 3-6) was led by Scott Spann, who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Jibril Noble added 15 points for Sankofa, which fell behind, 39-33, at halftime.

Then the Rockets roared.

"In the beginning, we knew we started off too slowly in the first half," McNeal-Wright said, "so when halftime came we said we had to go harder because that wasn't how we play."

A 12-2 burst to start the third frame gave Audenried control for good in front of its home crowd.

That's exactly what McNeal-Wright wanted when he asked his coach, Kenyatta Bey, to take him out of the team's last game at Northeast High.

Bey, said he complied about midway through the fourth quarter with his team up big during the game on Thursday.

"He had it all mapped out," Bey said, wearing a proud grin.

"It feels really good," Bey added later. "He'll also get a chance to go to [college]."

Division II schools have shown varying degrees of interest, said McNeal-Wright, who has exceptional leaping ability and is a capable shooter.

As a freshman, he didn't make the varsity squad, but he persisted anyway.

When asked if he dreamed of scoring 1,000 points when he first started his career at Audenried, McNeal-Wright looked incredulous.

"No, I didn't even think I would play varsity," he said. "I didn't even think I'd play 10th grade, either, but once I got on the court, I just did my thing and showed what I can do."

Audenried 21 18 27 18 - 84

Sankofa 17 16 17 16 - 66

A: Terence Moore 27, Nisheem McNeal-Wright 24, Shaheed Fagan-Haynes 17, Elijah Smith 2, Nyseem Smith 6, Dwayne Darks 6, Abdul Azeem-Bey 2.

S: Scott Spann 17, Jibril Noble 15, Khalil Turner 6, Iboo Dabo 6, Rasheed Ross 2, James Savage 4, Kobe Devine 7, Jordan Fuller 2, Darius Ward 7.