B y Jaime Thomas
Tad Jones has done his best to keep up with the Joneses on the basketball court. Specifically his father, Mark Jones.
The Hartford senior netted his 1000th point Friday night, only 1.8 seconds before the half against North Warren. And though the feat is a rare one, it’s no surprise to the Jones family that he accomplished it.
In fact, his dad was the first of only three male Hartford basketball players—four girls achieved the score as well—to make it to 1000, doing so in 1981. And 33 years later, his son set out to match and surpass his father’s record.
“Ever since I began to play on varsity, it’s been my goal since my dad did it too,” Tad Jones said. At 6 feet 5 inches, he looks the part for a star basketball player but is modest about his athletic talent.
He said he’s been playing ever since he can remember and now plays nearly year round with the AAU travel league, which his dad coaches.
“I think it’s kind of neat that father and son did that,” Mark Jones said. “It’s a testament of hard work and perseverance, working hard and working toward something.”
Tad’s coach, Caleb Sutliff, said Jones had to learn to “be more selfish” with scoring in earlier years but really began to shine as a junior.
“Junior year he started to come around and be a main focus,” Sutliff said, adding that Jones put a lot of effort into the sport. “He’s the first one in and the last one out at every practice, so he definitely puts in the time.”
Along with fellow captain Nick Casella, Sutliff said Jones is the team’s quiet leader.
“Tad leads by example; he doesn’t say much. It’s all on the floor.” He said the captains make a good pair, and all four seniors, who have played together for three years on varsity, work well together.
Mark Jones also stressed the importance of a strong team.
“He’s been lucky; he’s had good teammates. Having individual talent is good, but in the end it comes back to how well you integrate with the team,” he said.
Jones, who averages 26.2 points per game isn’t stopping at the 1000 milestone. He’s 50 points away from passing his father and 143 from his goal of becoming Hartford’s all-time leading male scorer. The record was set by Brian Petteys, who had 1154 points by the end of his high school career in 1986.
At 1011 points on Tuesday, Jones was looking forward to six league games, crossovers and sectionals to set a new bar.
“It’s a great accomplishment. We had several goals at the beginning of the season and that was one of them, and we have a couple more to go. We’ll keep working hard,” Sutliff said of Jones.
Other teams, though, know to look out for him. Sutliff said in Friday’s game, North Warren was pummeling Jones with defense, because they didn’t want to let him get his 1000.
But he was able to break free, scoring 20 points. When he made the 1000th shot, the game was stopped and his father gave him the game ball.
Mark said he felt like a proud parent when he handed the ball to his son as his wife, two daughters and many Hartford fans watched. Even Mark’s high school coach, Bruce Thomas, came to see the Jones’ 1000-point legacy continue.
“The community was clearly behind him and very supportive,” he said.
That doesn’t come close, though, to his highest scoring, record-making single game total of 47 points against Bolton.
In the fall, Jones will head north to play basketball at St. Lawrence University.