By Mark Kitchin
DENVILLE — Doug Alexander was happy and admittedly a little relieved after reaching his 1,000-point milestone in a 69-60 win against Morris Knolls on Tuesday. He wasn’t nervous about making his mark but with his senior season nearing its end, reaching his goal was one less thing to worry about.
“It feels great,” Alexander said. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about since before seventh grade. It’s been one of my goals for a while. It’s been really nice to get, especially on a night that we got a win.”
Alexander knocked down a free throw with 46.6 seconds left in the third quarter to reach his milestone. The win combined with a Randolph loss also clinched the National Division of the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference, Roxbury’s first division title since 1935. The Gaels are 15-7 on the season.
A sizable Roxbury crowd, some holding signs celebrating Alexander’s 1,000-point milestone, followed the Gaels to Denville to cheer on Alexander. The senior center, who saw lots of varsity time as a freshman, was 11 points short going into the game. Consequently, the Morris Knolls players knew it, too and seemed just as determined to stop him.
Moments after Doug Alexander released the ball, the 1,000th point of his Roxbury varsity career found the net. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)
“There was a little pressure but our team is doing well just sharing the ball and finding the open man the whole night so I knew if I just cut and found my spot that they would hit me,” Alexander said. “They made plays to get me open.”
It helped that Roxbury had Anthony McMyne running the point. The Gaels offense runs through Alexander and McMyne has been delivering his classmate the ball for years and knows where he likes it best.
“It’s been a great experience with him,” McMyne said. “I’ve played with him since I was 10 years old. I’m proud for him. I’m very happy. We played on travel teams since fifth grade. We played CYO basketball for St. Therese. They were great experiences.”
Unlike some athletes that labor to get those final points to achieve their goal, McMyne didn’t think Alexander was nervous or frustrated in his efforts early. He encouraged his teammate during the breaks and usually got him the ball within the flow of the offense.
“The key was just to get him the ball as much as possible,” McMyne said. “That’s all I ever try. I look inside. If he’s not open, he kicks it out to me. I don’t think (there was pressure on him).”
Doug Alexander has provided numerous points and rebounds in the paint for Roxbury. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)
Alexander knew achieving the goal was possible. He also knew that he would be in rare company. The last 1,000 point scorer for Roxbury was Angel Mangiro in 2011. Finding a boys player from Roxbury to achieve the mark before that, one would have to reach back to the days of Tom Magliacci and Bob Morgan.
“Around the end of last season, I realized that it was attainable,” Alexander said. “I scored 300 last year and I figured I needed another 300. It didn’t hit me until just when it happened. I still can’t believe it.”
Alexander seemed more amazed at Roxbury’s journey since his freshman year. The Gaels have struggled but have shown progress each season, going from 7-18 in 2012 to 9-17 in 2013 to 9-16 in 2014 to 15 wins this year. Roxbury does not have much of a basketball history and its teams never had success in the decades that it had played in the Iron Hills Conference where Seton Hall Prep and East Orange ruled. Playing for the first Roxbury team in 80 years to win a division title is something to talk about.
“From where we came from freshmen year to now to become conference champs,” Alexander said. “It’s amazing. … It’s a team game every night. Knowing that we have that goal out there which we set at the beginning of the season, that’s definitely something that we are still looking at and still trying to get. The team is definitely more important than what my goal was. It was all about the team goal at the end and getting the win.”