Vernon Pinkney III knew the moment was coming, and it didn’t take very long.
The Beacon of Hope standout became just the second basketball player in program history to score 1,000 career points during a recent game. Tuesday evening was the team’s first home game after a long stretch on the road, and Pinkney was to be honored for the milestone after his first made shot in the game against Cedar Creek.
With the talent and determination that helped him reach the mark in the first place, Pinkney scored his first points with 5:25 remaining in the first quarter to set off a small celebration among teammates, family and friends.
“It was really special because a lot of people don’t score 1,000 points in their high school careers,” Pinkney said. “I felt like it was a milestone under my belt. It meant a lot that my dad said something, pastor, Tilden (Whitfield), who also did it, and coach (Bobby) Hamilton. They’ve been through it already, so it means a lot to hear those words from them.”
The achievement salvaged an otherwise disappointing night for Beacon of Hope, which was plagued by turnovers in a 75-65 loss to Cedar Creek at the Solomon Calhoun Center.
But the setback did little to spoil the good feeling around Pinkney, who stepped in for the Eagles for the first time as an eighth-grader filling in for an injured Whitfield. Pinkney has been the school’s star player ever since, and has an outside shot of catching Whitfield’s school-record 1,565 career points with an outstanding showing to end his senior season.
“He’s a good young man,” said Pastor LaVoy Newton, who was one of several people to say a few words about Pinkney during the presentation of a plaque commemorating the accomplishment. “He’s very, very competitive, and so he’s always had that drive. I think one of the things is as a freshman he led the team in scoring, and so the bar has always been set high for him.
“If he doesn’t get 20 in a night, it’s like he had an off night. He’s always had to play under that kind of pressure, and he’s always meant a lot to us.”
Pinkney scored 18 points Tuesday. Arthur Young led the Eagles with 19 points and 19 rebounds, while AJ Dailey had 12 and Will Whitfield chipped in with 11.
The Eagles, however, couldn’t slow a Saints team that buried 11 3-pointers and used an aggressive trapping defense to fluster the home team’s guards.
Pinkney and Beacon of Hope will be looking to bounce back Friday when they welcome Seacoast Christian Academy to the Solomon Calhoun Center.
“This team is my heart and soul,” Pinkney said. “It means everything to me.”