With the crowd in great suspense, senior guard Joe Batelli fired up a 3-pointer from the right corner of the Newton Braves gymnasium. The shot bounced up off the rim and fell to the left side, into the hands of fellow senior Paul Monaco. After a reset for the Falcons, with just seven seconds remaining in the quarter, Batelli fired another 3-pointer. The ball went straight in – nothing but net! With that shot, “Joe B” went down in Jefferson basketball history.
Flashback to Batelli in his freshman year, as a little 14-year-old kid playing on the varsity basketball team for J-Town. The very first points of his career, also from a 3-pointer, occurred in the Newton gymnasium. It was only fitting for Joe B that the elusive 1,000 would be secured at the same court where it all started.
That is now back-to-back years with the Falcons reaching 1,000 points for the boys team. Steven Breeman, Jefferson alumnus and most recent 1,000-point scorer, saw Batelli as a for-sure right from the beginning. “No doubt, man, the kid shoots lights out. It was just a matter of time,” said Breeman. “It’s a terrific feeling – a really special way to be a part of school history.”
Newton must mean something special for the Falcons, because Breeman recorded his 1,000 points in the same gym as Batelli. “It’s pretty cool. Don’t think that’s for any particular reason, though,” Breeman commented.
“It’s an awesome accomplishment for Joe,” said Coach DiGennaro. “As I told Joe and the guys, it’s not always about the individual accomplishment; it’s a team achievement. They are the guys that work with him every day and get him the ball to get the points. It’s truly an accomplishment for all of them to play with a 1,000-point scorer.”
A few of Batelli’s teammates had some words to add on the achievement. “It’s amazing; it was the perfect way for him to get it with a three. Joe has over 200 3-pointers on his career and he’s arguably the best 3-point shooter to ever come through Jefferson,” said Senior Patrick Burns. “It’s awesome because Steve also did it here last year.”
“It’s just really cool that I had the privilege to play with two people who will go down in Jefferson history,” added Matthew Johnson, referring to Breeman and Batelli.
Batelli had his own words on his historic night. “It feels great. I can’t thank my teammates and coaches enough for getting me this opportunity.”
When asked about which player would continue the streak, the whole team agreed. “Bam is gonna be next,” they said, referring to Matthew Johnson.
Assuming scheduling remains the same for next season, keep an eye on the Falcons game at Newton next year. More history is bound to occur when the Falcons head into Newton.
This story was written by Johnny Knox, a student at Jefferson Township High School.