ATLANTIC CITY — Nah’Sir Morgan wanted to make Ray Bethea Jr.’s 1,000th career point special.
So a few days ago Morgan told his fellow Atlantic City High School senior that he would throw him an alley-oop pass for the historic basket.
“When you get your 1,000th point, the horn sounds,” Morgan said. “The crowd stands up. I wanted it to be a memorable moment for him.”
That’s exactly what happened as Bethea reached the milestone in a 73-40 win over Vineland on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-5 Bethea caught a lob pass late in the first quarter from Morgan and sank a layup for career points 1,000 and 1,001.
“This means a lot,” Bethea said. “This is what my dad and I were talking about when I was yea high.”
Bethea entered the game with 987 career points. He got all 13 points he needed in the first quarter.
“I was just trying to get it over with,” Bethea said. “I tried to rush some shots and get it out of the way.”
After the basket, Bethea exchanged hugs with teammates. Vikings coach Gene Allen presented him with the basketball. Bethea posed for pictures with family and Atlantic City cheerleaders.
“It’s a big achievement for him and his family,” Morgan said. “He’s been pushing and pushing. We wanted him to get it. This game was about him. We let him shine.”
Despite its tradition of basketball success, Atlantic City does not have many 1,000-point scorers. It is difficult for a player to break into the Vikings lineup as a freshman or sophomore.
Bethea is just the fifth Atlantic City boys player since 2000 to spend all four seasons as a Viking and score 1,000 career points. Lou Roe, a 1991 Vikings graduate is Atlantic City’s career scoring leader with 1,804 points.
“It’s rare because of the way we play,” Vikings coach Gene Allen said. “We’re not a high scoring team. To play four years (at Atlantic City) and get 1,000 points is a tremendous accomplishment.”
Atlantic City (4-0) is No. 3 in The Press Elite 11 ranking this season. The Vikings dominated Vineland after the opening minutes. Atlantic City outscored Vineland 25-9 in the second quarter to build a 27-point halftime lead.
Bethea finished with 29 and now has 1,016 career points. The Vikings with at least 1,000 points are listed on a board that hangs on a wall above the entrance to the Vikings locker room.
“I’m on the board now,” Bethea said. “I’m just going to have a consistent season, so I can pile up the points and be up there with the greats.”
Vineland 14 8 10 8 - 40
Atlantic City 24 25 18 6 - 73
VL – Campbell 16, Somerville 2, Borrero 2, Powell 2, DeShields 2, Shaw 14, Diggs 6, Shannon 2
AC – Bethea 29, Derry 6, Morgan 9, Montague 4, Dixon 4, Fredrick 5, Persiano 3, Rodriguez 5, Figueroa 6, Cooke 2
3-pointers – VL. Campbell (4), Shaw (2), Diggs; AC. Bethea, Persiano, Rodriguez
Records – Vineland 2-2; Atlantic City 4-0