Boys Basketball: Southold’s Grathwohl breaks 1,000 points

Nick Grathwohl’s winding road to 1,000 career points is over. When the Southold High School basketball player reached his destination, it was as sweet as he could have imagined.

Cole Brigham pulled down a defensive rebound and zipped an outlet pass to Grathwohl at midcourt early in the second quarter against Greenport Thursday night. With a defender on his heels, Grathwohl saw a path to the basket. “I was just looking at the hoop like I could see the light,” the senior shooting guard said, “like my dream was right there at my fingertips.”

Grathwohl proceeded to score on a layup, giving him an even 1,000 points. The Suffolk County League VIII game was stopped as Grathwohl’s teammates trotted over to hug and congratulate him. An announcement was made in Greenport’s Richard “Dude” Manwaring Gymnasium. Southold coach Lucas Grigonis presented Grathwohl with a commemorative ball to mark the occasion. The ball had his name and “1,000 POINTS” inscribed on it in fine calligraphy.

“I couldn’t even give you an emotion,” said Grathwohl, a fiery, emotional player, who kissed the ball before handing it back to Grigonis when the game was about to resume. “I felt a bunch of emotions. It was just so humbling. It was just a great moment, so much fun.”

Southold’s Nick Carr said: “I was shocked at first. I didn’t know what to do once he actually had a thousand, but once I went over to him, it was just like really joyful and it was just crazy. There were no words to explain what happened.”

What Grathwohl did in his team’s 56-43 win was become only the fifth known Southold boy to reach 1,000 points. Carl Stepnowsky (1987), Tim Stepnowsky (1990), Sean O’Hara (2006) and Liam Walker (2015) are the others, according to Grigonis.

Grathwohl scored 25 points, bringing his three-year total to 1,016. He shot 9-for-26 from the field (2 of 8 from three-point distance) and drained 5 of 8 free throws. By halftime he had 18 points.

Earlier opportunities for Grathwohl to reach the milestone were missed when Bridgehampton forfeit to Southold and he fouled out early in the third quarter after scoring eight points against Smithtown Christian. “It’s like a bumpy train ride, but it’s been good,” he said.

Thursday night was his night.

Grathwohl had his own virtual fan club in the stands, with some 20 family members and friends on hand to cheer him on, his parents Cody and Lindsay among them.

“Words can’t describe how amazing it is,” Grathwohl said. “It’s just a crazy accomplishment that I’ve really never thought I’d have myself in this situation. I have to thank my family, friends, coach — especially my coach, he just pushes me all the time. He wants the best player out of me and that’s my guy right there.”

Southold’s Nick Grathwohl reacts after hitting a three-point shot in the first half to close within two points of 1,000. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

Grathwohl has evolved as a player. As a sophomore, he was known for his three-point shooting and, well, not much else.

“My first year on varsity, my sophomore year, all I did was shoot threes,” he said. “I would not take a step past the three-point line. You got to mix it up.”

Since then, the results have followed.

“Nick loves to rise to the occasion,” Grigonis said. “He loves pressure and usually he does well under it as long as his emotions don’t get the best of him, but Nick’s a great competitor.”

Southold (11-6, 7-2), playing its sixth straight road game, never trailed in what was a sloppy affair. A floater by Ev Corwin cut Southold’s lead to seven points, but the First Settlers responded with a 20-3 run for a 56-32 lead in the fourth quarter. Carr (14 points, 13 rebounds) scored eight points during that spell while Grathwohl had seven.

During the first quarter, Carr lost one of his contact lenses and played the remainder of the game wearing one contact lens. That didn’t stop him and John Kaelin (10 rebounds) from helping Southold control the boards. The Settlers won the rebounding battle, 52-30.

Greenport (3-12, 3-6)  was led by Jalen Stilley (19 points) and Joshua Santacroce (11 points). Jordan Hubbard was a force under the boards with 12 rebounds and six blocked shots to go with five points. Jahmeek Freeman added nine assists and four points.

After the game, amid a virtual family reunion, Grathwohl posed for photos.

“My head’s just spinning right now,” he later said. “It’s been the greatest night of my career, actually. Yeah, it’s just amazing.”