Ever since a high school boys basketball preview story last month mentioned that Xavier Allen was entering the new season just 69 points shy of 1,000 career points, he hasn’t heard the end of it. Fielding questions from people asking him when he would reach that mark had become a daily routine.
For his part, Allen didn’t want to talk about the approaching milestone.
“Everybody was talking about it for me; I didn’t have to,” the Mattituck High School senior guard said. “Literally, every single day since that [story] came out, everyone was talking about it. I was in class and teachers were coming up to me, saying they were going to bring their families and stuff to come and watch me.”
Allen doesn’t have to answer that question any more. His play did all the talking Saturday when his career-high 32 points in a 69-46 non-league win over East Rockaway made him the first Mattituck boy in nearly four decades to reach 1,000 points. Allen joins Don Wilcenski and Tom Gwydir (the last Tucker to accomplish the feat in 1980 or 1981) as the only Tuckers to have reached that mark, according to former Mattituck coach and athletic director Mike Huey.
“I wasn’t even alive” in the early 1980s, said Allen, whose four-year career total sits at 1,002 points. “It’s a big deal.”
After scoring 21 points against Pierson and 18 in 20 minutes of play in a rout of Greenport Friday night, Allen entered Saturday’s game at Mattituck High School needing 30 points to hit 1,000. It didn’t look likely after his scoreless first quarter. He had eight points by halftime and 13 in each of the last two quarters.
With 5 minutes, 21 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Allen sank a step-back three from the corner, seemingly giving him the three points to put him at 1,000. It wasn’t allowed, though, because of a traveling call.
Later, Allen made a lefthanded layup to pull him within one. Then, on successive possessions, he was whistled for charging violations.
Time was running out.
Then Allen received a pass from Luke Woods in the right corner and launched a shot. “Coming out of my hands it just felt good,” he said.
After the ball fell through the net, he may have felt better. The ball dropped in for Allen’s fifth three-pointer of the game and perhaps the most memorable shot of his career.
The game was stopped, an announcement was made and Allen received hugs from happy teammates and family members.
More hugging and picture-taking followed after the game as family and friends offered their congratulations. Among them was Allen’s cousin, former Greenport star and current Center Moriches senior guard Ahkee Anderson.
“It was a matter of time before he was going to get it,” Ellwood said. “It’s a big barrier. It hasn’t been done here [since the early 1980s] … It doesn’t happen often in boys basketball.
“I’m just so happy for him. He deserves it. I never had a kid work harder than X.”
Allen’s older brother, Mattituck assistant coach Gene Allen, said: “It all goes to him. He puts in a lot of hard work. He’s in the gym pretty much every day of the week. If he’s not, he’s at home dribbling the basketball or watching basketball. There’s always something involving basketball. Just a lot of work that he puts in. He has a lot of proud people in his corner.”
As if Xavier Allen’s day wasn’t stressful enough, he took an SAT test in the morning that started late. “He didn’t come into the building until 15 minutes before warmup,” said Ellwood.
Although Mattituck (3-0) led for virtually the entire first half, a buzzer-beating three by Franklin Infante (18 points) gave East Rockaway (0-1) a 29-27 edge at the half.
Things turned back in Mattituck’s favor in the third quarter, and Xavier Allen was a big reason why. He converted a putback and then a layup while being fouled to kick-start a 21-2 run, 12 of those points coming from him. That turned a two-point deficit into a 54-37 lead early in the fourth quarter.
“We were down five in the third quarter, then all of a sudden we were up 20 in like the blink of the eye,” Ellwood said. “We just flipped that game around, and that was X. X got going and we got going.”
Allen had a double-double with 11 rebounds, four assists and a steal.
What stands out about Allen?
“His perseverance,” teammate Sean Kobel said. “He’ll never stop going. He’ll never stop playing.”
Woods (17 points) said: “He’s such an all-around player. He’s just a great leader. He can shoot, pass, rebound, steal, play defense. He can do anything.”
Rashad Lawson, who had a career-high 27 points in the 87-44 win over Greenport, pulled down 12 rebounds to go with four points, six assists, three steals and two blocks.
Aidan O’Connor led East Rockaway with 21 points and 17 rebounds.
Allen can return to playing with less of a burden on his shoulders.
“Now I can just play my game instead of worrying about a thousand points,” he said. “I do feel relieved. It’s going to be fun now.”
Photo caption: Xavier Allen hugs his sister Gina after scoring a career-high 32 points and becoming the first Mattituck boy in 41 years to reach 1,000 career points. (Credit: Bob Liepa)