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NW’s Yadush reaches 1,000

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    Northwestern’s Sam Yadush and his mother hold the ball presented to him after he scored his 1,000th career point. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published February 09. 2019 12:12AM

Sam Yadush believes in having a supporting cast and recognizing just how important those people are in his life.

It runs through everything he does on and off the basketball court.

It’s that ethic that made him look first for teammates and family before anything else after he scored the 1,000th point of his high school basketball career.

As the horn sounded after the ball went through the net, Yadush was swarmed by his teammates who gave him congratulations.

As he made his way off the court, someone held out the game ball to him and he walked right past. It was more important to reach the top of the bleachers where his mom was seated.

For some players, that part of the ritual seems to be just that; a ritual. It’s a quick hug and back to their friends. For Yadush, it was more heart-felt than that. It was one of those hugs that moms really like to get from their kids.

Finally, the game ball came to him and he posed for a couple of pictures with mom and then headed to the scorer’s table where his dad was seated keeping stats of the game. Dad, too, got a genuine hug from his son that had ‘thank you’ written all over it.

“It meant the world to me,” said Yadush of getting his 1,000th point. “Especially doing it in front of my parents and my family and our home crowd. I couldn’t have done it without all of my teammates over the past four years.”

On the court, Yadush was one of those kids that catch a coach’s eye early.

He had the instincts to play the game at a high level even if he didn’t quite have the size. Most nights, Yadush is going up against taller players, but it’s never stopped him.

He knows he can’t shoot over them, so he puts distance between himself and them and hits threes. Or, he simply beats them to the punch and leaves them spinning around behind him as he heads toward the basket.

When there’s an open look, like there was for his milestone shot, he takes it; a pull-up jumper from the foul line.

“I’m so happy for him. He’s put a lot of hard work in and he deserves it more than anybody,” said coach Billy Hallman. “We saw it at a young age. He’s a gym-rat and he’s been in the gym since I’ve known him. He’s accepted his role no matter what it is, and he’s a great player all around.”

Some players reach milestone scoring achievements in their careers because they always are the one putting up shots. Put up enough shots and with a good enough skill level, you’ll get to 1,000.

Others are pretty much the only offensive choice for a team and they have to shoot the ball.

Neither of those scenarios apply to Sam Yadush.

He got there because he works at his game and hits a high percentage of shots. If he doesn’t have the look he needs for a shot, he’s not going to take it and he prefers to find the guy who may have a better shot.

It’s how the game is supposed to be played.

“We’ve had a lot of great players here and some nights, it’s not my night and I don’t have to force it. Other nights, I’m hitting my shots and they get the ball to me and we work it that way,” said Yadush. “You don’t win many games if everybody plays for themselves and we don’t take that approach here.

“If you look at what Devin [Thomas] and [Deven] Bollinger and others on this team can do, there’s no reason for me to be the one taking all of the shots. When you see someone make a great shot and you helped set it up, that’s a great feeling.”

Northwestern didn’t make the Colonial League playoffs this season, but they did qualify for the District 11 playoffs, which start Feb. 19. You get the feeling that Northwestern could surprise some people. They’re a senior-laden team with a lot of good players.

Plus, they’ve responded well after having a little time to regroup this season when games backed up and they needed that time to decompress a little.

Hallman believes that with leaders like Yadush, there could be good things ahead for the Tigers.

“We can play better than we have at times and we know that,” said Hallman. “We’ve got guys – and Sam is one of them – that shine when games are on the line and when we need to win.

“Sam won’t be flashing back to tonight [when he scored his 1,000th point]. He is all about the next game and helping Northwestern get a win. It’s just one of the things we love about him.”

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