MIAA Div. 5 boys basketball: Brayden Thayer joins the 1,000 point club in Pioneer’s 65-37 Round of 32 win over Fenway (PHOTOS)

Pioneer’s Brayden Thayer (10) is all smiles after scoring the 1,000th point of his career during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield.

Pioneer’s Brayden Thayer (10) is all smiles after scoring the 1,000th point of his career during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Brayden Thayer (10) scored the 1,000th point of his career during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield.

Pioneer’s Brayden Thayer (10) scored the 1,000th point of his career during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Brayden Thayer (10) is all smiles after scoring the 1,000th point of his career during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield.

Pioneer’s Brayden Thayer (10) is all smiles after scoring the 1,000th point of his career during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Brayden Thayer (10) puts up a shot during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield.

Pioneer’s Brayden Thayer (10) puts up a shot during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Brayden Thayer (10) watches his 3-point shot go in for the 1,000th point of his career during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield.

Pioneer’s Brayden Thayer (10) watches his 3-point shot go in for the 1,000th point of his career during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Kurt Redeker (3) goes to the basket during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield.

Pioneer’s Kurt Redeker (3) goes to the basket during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Josh Wood (32) ties to get past a pair of defenders during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield.

Pioneer’s Josh Wood (32) ties to get past a pair of defenders during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Alex McClelland (15) drives to the past during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield.

Pioneer’s Alex McClelland (15) drives to the past during the Panthers’ 65-37 win over Fenway in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 on Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 03-01-2024 9:45 PM

Modified: 03-02-2024 12:05 PM


NORTHFIELD — It’ll be a birthday Pioneer Valley Regional junior Brayden Thayer will never forget. 

It was going to take a big year offensively for Thayer to become the 20th player in Pioneer history to hit the 1,000 point mark. He entered the season sitting at 619 career points, putting him 381 shy of the milestone. Through the opening 20 games of the season he had tallied 369 points — averaging 18.5 per game.

Thayer entered Friday’s MIAA Div. 5 state tournament Round of 32 contest against Fenway sitting 12 points short of the exclusive milestone, and it didn’t take him long to get there. 

Through one quarter, Thayer had knocked down a 3-pointer and hit a floater in the paint to give him five points. He opened the second quarter with a pair of 3s to sit at 999 career points.

With 1:53 showing on the clock, Alex McClelland got the ball, drove to his left and dished it to Thayer at the top of the circle. A good three feet behind the arc, Thayer put up a 3 that swished through the net, giving him his 1,000th point. The feat happened at nearly the exact time he was born 17 year prior. 

“It’s been an individual goal of mine,” Thayer said. “It’s a lot of  hard work put into it. You think about it happening and now it’s happened. It’s still setting in. I was just letting the game come to me. The first quarter I made a few shots, the second quarter I was a little cold. When it got down to five points left I was like ‘I’m just going to go get it right now.’ I kept shooting until I got it.” 

Thayer was met by the entire Panther team after making the shot, which put Pioneer ahead, 36-15. The No. 3 Panthers eventually cruised into the Round of 16 with a 65-37 victory at Messer Gymnasium. 

“I love my teammates,” Thayer said. “I love playing with them. I’ve been playing with these guys since I was in fourth grade. It’s special and it’s a special group of guys. I’m glad to be playing with them.” 

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When sitting so close to the 1,000 point mark, it would be easy to let the moment get too big and force things. Thayer made sure to let it come to him naturally, playing just as he normally does. 

“I’m a team-first guy,” Thayer said. “I knew it would come eventually. I just had to keep playing my game. My teammates find me all the time. It’s a half credit to them. I’m not scoring all these points off the dribble. They’re always looking for me. It’s a special group.”

Thayer has grown up in the gym in Northfield with his dad and Pioneer head coach, Scott Thayer. Getting to see his son accomplish the feat as a junior was something Scott Thayer said he couldn’t be more proud of.

“It’s one of those personal awards that happens organically,” Scott Thayer said. “You’re able to work on your game, you’re able to play as a freshman and in this world where you’re only playing 20 games, you kind of need to play as a freshman to do this as a junior. It’s a credit to him. He’s the one that does all the work when nobody is watching him. He’s in the gym shooting, he’s ball handling in the driveway and doing all the things that players have to do to achieve success.

“As a dad, being proud is an understatement. The team was behind him tonight and they wanted him to get it in the worst way. I’m extremely happy.”

How do you reach 1,000 points as a junior? Scoring in bunches at a young age. 

Thayer scored eight points as an eighth grader then averaged 11.7 points per game as a freshman to total 257 points on the season. As a sophomore, he averaged 14.8 points per game and tallied 354 points, helping Pioneer on a deep run in the state tournament.

Thayer joined Greenfield’s Amber Bergeron as the two Recorder area athletes to hit 1,000 points this season. Thayer is the first Recorder area boy to hit the milestone since Turners Falls’ Anthony Peterson did so in 2020. 

While thrilled to hit 1,000, Brayden Thayer was most pleased with getting the win and keeping Pioneer’s season alive.

After falling to Duggan in the Western Mass. Class D semifinals, Brayden Thayer said it got everyone to dial in and play their best moving forward. 

“The win is always important,” Thayer said. “The semifinal loss [to Duggan] woke us up. If we kept playing like that, we weren’t going to go very far. We have to keep playing defense like we did tonight.” 

The Panthers held a 20-10 lead after one quarter before outscoring No. 30 Fenway 16-5 in the second frame to hold a 36-15 lead at the break. Pioneer kept its 20-point lead going into the fourth — leading 52-31 — and never let Fenway get back in the game in the fourth quarter. 

Thayer finished with 22 points in the win. Josh Wood scored 17 points, Kurt Redeker tallied 16 points while Alex McClelland recorded six points for the Panthers (16-5). 

Pioneer advanced to host No. 14 Athol, which beat Southbridge 67-51, in the Round of 16. That game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Northfield.

Scott Thayer said he’s hoping Friday’s dominant win showed his squad just how tough they can be to beat when they lock in defensively. 

“We got in our stance tonight,” Scott Thayer said. “We jumped on the ball and rebounded. That first half is what we’re used to looking at. We’ve hit our stride at the right time. We still have to put in work before the next game.”