MIDDLETOWN — C.J. Napier achieved quite a bit in a 39-second span of the fourth quarter Saturday night.
The Fenwick High School senior forward celebrated a pair of milestones during that time and then got to celebrate a victory by the Falcons boys basketball team, which rallied past visiting St. Xavier 58-53.
Napier became the Greater Catholic League Coed Division’s all-time leader in made free throws with 3:03 remaining, then cracked the 1,000-point mark for his career by muscling inside for a basket with 2:24 on the clock.
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“That’s been my game since I’ve been here, so it was kind of cool to get the thousandth point on that,” Napier said. “It was cool to get the free throw because that’s something I really strive myself to be good at.”
He began the night seven free throws behind Purcell Marian’s Jaime Cooper, who converted 294 from 1996-97 to 1999-2000. Napier was 14-of-16 from the line against St. X.
He also began the night with 983 career points and put up 23 against the Bombers, becoming just the ninth Fenwick player to reach four digits in scoring since the school opened in 1952.
The game was stopped briefly after Napier reached the 1,000-point plateau. He was congratulated and given the ball on the court, then headed into the stands to embrace his father Eric.
“It was kind of emotional,” Napier said. “He coached me growing up and he’s always been my biggest supporter, so it was cool to give him the ball and give him a hug. He was crying a little bit too.”
Falcons coach Pat Kreke said it was a special night for him as well.
“It’s a great milestone,” Kreke said. “Just look at the three guys that I’ve coached that have been thousand-point scorers — Marty Bidwell, Frank Catrine and now C.J. Napier. That’s three not just top-quality basketball players, but top-quality kids, some of the best young men that I have coached in my 30 years.”
The 6-foot-5, 195-pound Napier put up 12 points in the last seven minutes to help Fenwick (11-6) conquer St. X (9-10) and sweep the weekend, having won 44-40 at Carroll on Friday.
The Falcons trailed the Bombers by as many as nine points in the second period. St. X still had a 40-37 lead in the last five minutes, but the hosts responded with a 16-5 spurt to take control.
“We thought we were the better team coming into it and our coaches said that too,” said Napier, who grabbed eight rebounds. “We knew it was going to be effort tonight, and I think we did a better job with our effort.”
Travis Dahm sank four 3-pointers and totaled a career-high 14 points for Fenwick, while A.J. Braun had 14 points and five boards.
Dahm is a senior who hasn’t seen a lot of action, but Kreke said his confidence has been on the rise. He had never reached double digits in his varsity career before Saturday, though Dahm did have nine points at Carroll.
“You look at where we’ve struggled this year and that’s where it’s been — we have not had good outside shooting,” Kreke said. “Travis gave us a big lift at Carroll and his confidence carried over, and he had a wonderful game tonight.”
The veteran coach said the Falcons played well most of the weekend after coming off subpar performances against McNicholas and Miamisburg.
“The way things were going heading into two tough games this weekend, we could’ve been 9-8 really quick,” Kreke said. “Carroll and tonight and Badin a couple weeks ago were three of the best defensive games we’ve had all year. Right now, I feel really good about where the team is.”
St. X has lost three of its last four games, but interim coach Brian Kellett said he couldn’t complain about Saturday’s showing.
Hank Thomas had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Bombers. Danny Greive tossed in 11 points.
“We played very well, they played very well,” Kellett said. “It was a grind down the last couple minutes, and they made more plays than we did. But we took care of the ball and played good defense. We don’t always have a great shooting night, but we’ve played very unselfish basketball.”
The charity stripe was the difference in the game. Fenwick was 21-of-26 and St. X was 3-of-6, and Kellett said he would refrain from commenting on that area of the contest.
“It’s fun to play up here. Fenwick’s very good and well-coached. I hope we keep playing them,” Kellett said. “C.J.’s a special player. I wish him all the best.”
Both teams are back on the court for road games Friday, St. X against La Salle and the Falcons against Chaminade Julienne.
CJ has already clinched the GCLC North Division title, so Fenwick has turned its sights to the Division II tournament.
“I think we’re a pretty dangerous team,” Napier said. “We’ve still got a lot to work on, but I think if we keep the energy and play like we did tonight, we can beat a lot of teams.”
St. Xavier 15-12-8-18—53
ST. XAVIER (9-10): Nathan Stockman 2 1 7; B.J. Bransford 3 0 6; Hank Thomas 6 2 15; Luke Pellot 2 0 4; Danny Greive 4 0 11; Jared Kreimer 3 0 8; Nick Frank 1 0 2. Totals: 21-3-53
FENWICK (11-6): Jared Morris 0 3 3; A.J. Braun 5 4 14; C.J. Napier 4 14 23; Dan Luers 1 0 2; Jordan Rucker 1 0 2; Travis Dahm 5 0 14. Totals: 16-21-58
3-pointers: S 8 (Greive 3, Kreimer 2, Stockman 2, Thomas), F 5 (Dahm 4, Napier)