(VIDEO) Swain Scores Historic 2,000th Point in Rivers’ Win
By Nate Weitzer for Mass Prep Stars
WESTON, Mass. – One of the hardest working high school basketball players in the state reached a career milestone in fitting fashion.
Rivers School senior guard Azar Swain came into Monday’s tilt with Independent School League rival Roxbury Latin sitting on 1,995 career points. The superb shooter nailed a three-pointer from the corner in the opening minutes, but admitted that he struggled with the pressure of scoring another bucket to reach rarified air.
Just over six minutes into the home game, Swain battled around a pick and caught the ball at the elbow before attacking his man and finishing a tough floater to become the 67th player in state history to net 2,000 career points during Rivers 69-59 win.
“I could feel the anticipation from the start and there was some pressure off my back once that shot went down,” Swain said. “It’s a testament to how hard I’ve worked. I never aimed to get 2,000 [points], but I wanted to prove throughout these four years that I could score at all levels.”
Azar Swain nets his 2,000th career point for Rivers.
The 6-foot-1 Brockton native is arguably the best shooter in the state thanks to his natural ability and tireless work ethic.
After the game, second-year head coach Keith Zalaski asserted that Swain earned each and every point on his way to becoming the school’s first 2,000-point scorer.
“There’s a reason [Swain] scored 2,000 points,” Zalaski said. “I get to [Rivers] around 6:30 a.m. some days and he’s in the gym on ‘The Gun’ taking shots. He puts in more time trying to perfect his crafts than anyone I’ve met.”
While Swain was able to get the proverbial monkey of his back with that floater midway through the first half, Roxbury Latin still led 12-10 and Rivers continued to trail by as much as six points throughout the half.
Swain with a big 1st half shot.
Playing without starters Andrew Snoddy, Jay Dieterle and Tyler Aronson due to injuries, Swain and fellow Division 1 recruit Jermaine Samuels were forced to put the team on their backs.
Swain would add 10 points before the half and continue to pour it in with 16 in the second half, finishing with a game-high 31 points, while Samuels also helped spearhead a comeback effort.
Rivers (16-9) went on a 23-6 run to take a commanding 65-54 lead late in the second half and give Swain a reason to feel even happier on this momentous night.
“It was so tense in the gym,” Swain recalled. “Every shot that went up, people were waiting to applaud. I didn’t want to get too emotional during the game, but I’m going to soak it up after the game.”
In the end, Swain and Samuels combined for 56 of Rivers’ 69 points and 21 of the team’s 27 rebounds to carry their younger teammates in an important win.
“We’re a little undermanned right now with three of our starters out and luckily we still have [Swain] and Jermaine [Samuels],” began Zalaski
“At times we had multiple freshmen out there with an eighth grader and it’s nice when those guys can look at [Samuels and Swain] because they really instill confidence in guys who haven’t really been there before.”
Swain with a big runner late in the second half, helps seal the win.
Stars Who Shined
Azar Swain ‘17 G – A two-sport standout at Rivers, Swain (pictured below) is also the school’s all-time leader in touchdowns. He continued to increase the school record with 31 points in this contest and now sits at 2,026 points over the course of a four-year career.
It’s particularly impressive to note that Swain did not accrue any of those points until he became a freshman, and that he only reached the 1,000-point plateau last December during the first month of his junior campaign.
Since then the Yale commit has done nothing but fill it up while leading Rivers to tough conference wins as he did again on Wednesday night.
“[Swain] is the most competitive kid I think I’ve ever coached,” Zalaski effused. “He just wants to win so badly and he’s just as competitive in the classroom. There’s a reason he’s going to Yale.”
“I’m just thankful for all the opportunities I got from my two coaches and all my teammates here at Rivers,” Swain said. “It’s such a blessing to be part of [the 2,000-point club].”
Jermaine Samuels ’17 G – The Villanova-bound Samuels went for 25 points, 11 rebounds and five assists on the night with his college coach Jay Wright in attendance.
Samuels did a bit of everything during Rivers’ comeback push, as his assist to freshman Colin Corrigan for a three and his lay-up off a steal seemed to break the visitors’ collective back by putting Rivers up 65-54 with just over two minutes remaining.
Jermaine Samuels goes Coast-to-Coast for the dunk.
“[Sameuls] is going to be very successful because he does literally everything on the court. One of his number one skills is his motor and it gets us over the hump sometimes when he’s playing harder and he’s able to dominate,” Zalaski said.
Samuels with a steal and finish.
Daniel Shlayen ’17 G – Roxbury Latin’s captain looked to rain on Swain’s parade by leading his team to a road win. He put in a game-high 16 points during the first half and made several critical defensive plays down the stretch.
He finished with 23 points, four rebounds and two steals to lead RL, yet in the end, he was unable to match the talent and will of Swain and Samuels.
Myles Davis ‘19 G – The West Roxbury native made his famous namesake proud by playing with the smooth aplomb of a jazz musician. Davis crossed up several Rivers defenders before hitting jump shots and he added a team-high three assists while also earning 11 free throw attempts on the night.
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