- Front Porch
MERIDEN — Roosevelt Shider wears No. 1 on his basketball jersey. Never was that more appropriate than on Monday night.
With a fade-away pull-up jumper on the base line quickly followed by a fast-break floater in the lane, the Wilcox Tech senior broke the city schoolboy basketball scoring record that had stood for 52 years.
John Frasco, who also played at Wilcox before graduating in 1962, held it all this time at 1,628.
On Monday night, with Frasco watching from a front-row seat in a full Wilcox gym, Shider got the four points he need to break the mark five minutes into the game against Vinal Tech.
Then he went on to score 30 more.
That gave Shider 34 for the night and 1,659 and counting for his career.
Here are the numbers, though, that Shider cared more about: 85-66, the final score, in favor of 6-2 Wilcox.
“I just wanted to win. I just wanted to win,” said Shider, as quiet as his game is loud.
Monday’s record-breaker saw a fitting convergence of forces. Thanks to some deft rescheduling of a snowed-out game by Wilcox co-athletic director Steve Wodarski, it came at home in the midst of a block of road games.
It came with not only Frasco, but Meriden’s No. 4 scorer of all time, John Penwell, and Meriden’s single-season record holder, Rich Pasinski, all at their alma mater in person to watch the torch pass.
And it came with Shider’s family at courtside: his mother Lisa, sister Rozina and brother John, who drove down from his home in Shrewsbury, Mass.
“I couldn’t have done it without my mom’s support,” said Roosevelt, who lost his father John Sr. to pancreatic cancer nearly nine years ago. “It’s just amazing, an amazing family.”
While Lisa confessed to being nervous before Monday’s game, Roosevelt said he was not. “Just another game,” he said outside the locker room.
But once the opening tip went up, there was that fluttery, breathless sensation in the crowd that accompanies a major event that is no longer a matter of if, but when.
It did not come right away. Shider did not score on Wilcox’s first eight trips up the court. He had just one attempt: a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The game was four minutes old, Shider was scoreless and Wilcox trailed by one.
Then — bam! bam! — it was done.
Make that swish — the pull-up J on the right base line tore through the net at 3:52 — and ping — the transition floater at 3:06 caught iron — and, well, shhhh. The record-breaking shot kicked up off the rim and rippled through the twine seemingly without sound.
And then the gym erupted.
Vinal inbounded so quickly after Shider’s basket that the game wasn’t halted until after the Hawks had scored at the other end.
Then due recognition was paid. Frasco and Shider were photographed at center court with the game ball.
“I knew that he was going to break it,” said Frasco, who first met Shider last season. “I knew it and I was happy for him because it’s a lot of time, a lot of practice, a lot of hard work. He deserves to get that many points.”
Pasinski, whose 1968 single-season record of 619 is well within Shider’s sights (he’s got 251 through eight games of a 20-game slate), sounded a similar refrain.
“It was 50-plus years for an all-time record for the city, which is fantastic. I’m so happy for him,” Pasinski said. “And it couldn’t have happened to a better kid. He’s definitely puts the time and energy into the game, so to be rewarded with that record is great.”
Shider’s 34-point performance Monday night was a snapshot of what he brings to the floor. He’s a strong outside shooter, can shoot off the dribble, can penetrate.
He is very quick, especially on defense, where he creates steals and turnovers to set up a bevy of transition points for himself and his teammates.
Mostly, he is patient and poised. He does not force things.
“I was just waiting for the game to come to me,” said Shider. “I usually start off slow.”
And as Shider goes, so goes the Tribe. He scored 14 points in the last four minutes of the first quarter, and that put the home team up 25-13.
After quiet second and third frames in which he had just seven combined, Shider went off for 13 points in the final quarter, and that’s when the Indians pulled away.
Next up: Damika Martinez’s overall city record of 1,857. Shider, 198 points away, is looking no further than Wednesday. That’s Wilcox Tech’s next game.
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