There are an elite group of Comets holding basketballs with four digits etched into the leather face. During Senior night, Kyler Newman's three-pointer stopped play as he walked to the Comet bench to hug his coach. Fans waved signs that read, "Kyler Newman - 1000th Point," ushering Newman to a line of Hillcrest players who have achieved a difficult accolade.
Newman is Hillcrest's triple-threat on offense. His leaping ability often puts him in the circle for the opening tip-off. He'll transition to the low block as his teammates bring the ball up the court. Using his low center of gravity, Newman quickly shifts his weight to confuse defenders. With defensive players off balance, Newman will curl off screens to catch passes on the wing, where his precision shooting causes defenses to fight through Newman's teammates to contest his shot. But what makes Newman most dangerous is his first step as defenders commit to blocking his shot.
Newman's slice-and-dice style has earned him a multi-year starting spot on some very good Hillcrest teams the past few years. The first step off the dribble usually pushes Newman to the second level of defenders. He has a knack to read the waistline of players at least a foot taller than he. A hard step right can be followed by a spin move to the left, a soaring layup over the top, or a pull-up jumper. Either way, defenders are left shaking their heads as Newman slices defensive schemes to put up points at will.
It may seem uncanny that Newman would post his 1000th point as a Comet this year. He supported 1000th point scorers Daniel Nersten, Jake Isaac, and Chris Tungseth as they marched their teams into playoffs with 1000 points each. Newman often passed the previous three elite scorers the ball as they catapulted to one of the most coveted places in athletics statistics. Each 1000 point scorer has played in the section finale with teams that were feared beyond a single scorer. Team was a big emphasis for Nersten, Isaac, and Tungseth. It is something that resonates with Newman as well.
Many might not see beyond Newman's smiling face as he holds his 1000 point scoring sign. But what should follow in the conversation on scoring is the quiet confidence and focus that Kyler leads the team with. While scoring 1000 points is an incredible feat, the more impressive action may be what happens in the huddle at mid-court before each game.
With his four teammates standing, backs to the home fans, Newman's name is called for the starting lineup. High-fives follow as he marches down a gauntlet of bench players before shaking hands with the referees, acknowledging the opposing coach, and running into the huddle of teammates that are swarmed at the free throw line. Newman confidently enters the huddle to call teammates to attention. His eyes close as the humidity in the huddle rises from the breath of players wearing Comet jerseys. Newman starts his team in prayer, focusing his friends to recognize the presence of the Lord in the gym while asking a blessing on a game some may think defines Newman. The unique aspect of Kyler is that he is using the game to bring a different definition to basketball. One that honors his teammates, glorifies the Lord, and causes stands to shake. Kyler's 1000th point is an accomplishment that trails behind the testimony of the work Jesus Christ is doing in he and his teammates this year.