Weber hits target to become North Callaway boys all-time leading scorer

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 3/22/23

Much can change in 48 years.

That is how long it took for the North Callaway boys basketball all-time scoring record to be broken as senior Matthew Weber became the top Thunderbird near the end …

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Weber hits target to become North Callaway boys all-time leading scorer

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Much can change in 48 years.

That is how long it took for the North Callaway boys basketball all-time scoring record to be broken as senior Matthew Weber became the top Thunderbird near the end of this season. Weber set the record in North Callaway’s 71-40 district victory against New Bloomfield, when he finished with a team-high 32 points.

Overall, Weber finished with 1,351 points to surpass the 1,284 points scored by Mike Love, who played at North Callaway from 1972-75. Weber’s career scoring record joins the four other school records he had already set, including 42 points in a game, 529 points in a season, 96 free throws made in a season and 84 3-pointers drained in a season.

Weber said there was some uncertainty at the start of the season of whether he would be able to break the record. Before North Callaway’s first game, Weber sprained his ankle in practice and was sidelined for five games until he returned in a limited role Dec. 13 against Van-Far. It could have been worse, Weber said, if his medical issues weren’t sorted out sooner.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to get it,” Weber said. “We got it checked out, and they originally said I wouldn’t be playing until the middle of January. That’s kind of a long time, especially my senior season. Then I started to get physical therapy and got a second opinion.”

However, even though Weber was playing again, it took a while for him to feel like his normal self as he said he didn’t get to about 80-90 percent until after Christmas break. He only felt 100 percent comfortable in February.

Up to that point, all sorts of activity on the court was more difficult for Weber as he said going up for rebounds was more challenging and his jumpshot needed some time to be tuned once again. Weber said there was a mental aspect his coaches pointed out to him as well.

“A couple games after I was back, I wasn’t attacking as much as I was before,” Weber said. “I started to get more comfortable attacking, so by the end of the season, I was pretty much comfortable doing both (driving and perimeter shooting) and rebounding. It was a risk-reward type of thing. I could reinjure it, but I kept it taped up so I felt pretty comfortable after that.”

Last year and before this season, Weber said people told him they believed it was possible he could break the longtime record as Weber had just finished a junior campaign that saw him set the season scoring record. In district play against New Bloomfield, Weber needed 21 points going into the night to set the record. The Thunderbirds played a much stronger second half to top the Wildcats to begin a historic postseason run that included their first district title since 1999 while Weber made his own history.

At the moment he broke it, Weber wasn’t aware at first of the significance of the points he just scored until he heard his family’s reaction in the crowd.

“I heard my parents going crazy, and I saw my dad shake my head like, ‘Yeah, I got it,’” Weber said. “I was kind of on edge, but once I did get it, I didn’t really have to worry about it much anymore. It’s pretty special because there are a lot of good people that played here before me.”

One of those good people Weber was referring to is, of course, the previous record holder Love. In his three seasons on varsity, Love recalls those Thunderbird teams going 61-14 while he earned all-state honors his senior year and was an all-state honorable mention his junior season. The current financial controller for Foster Brothers Wood Products in Auxvasse still owns the school’s season rebounding record at 296.

Love said he looks back at his career fondly because he was on great teams with talented players. He said, even though he moved to Fulton a few years ago, he tries to follow the team however he can by reading about them in the newspaper and occasionally making it out to a game.

The most recent Thunderbird game Love attended was the three-overtime thriller in the sectional round against Cole Camp, which North Callaway ended up losing 54-51 on a half-court heave at the buzzer after they had secured their first district title since 1999.

“Watching the kid that broke (the record), I was really happy for him that he did that,” Love said. “In a way, you hate to see a record broken, but as they say, that’s what records are for, to be broken. I was proud it held up as long as it did.”

In the loss, it was 12-6 North Callaway at halftime, but Love saw plenty of why Weber was so special after he finished with a double-double to lead the floor with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Love said Weber emerged in the second half to help the Thunderbirds in a back-and-forth battle with Cole Camp following Weber sitting out the first quarter due to him rolling his other ankle, Weber said.

“I’ve been reading about this boy ever since he’s been playing at North Callaway,” Love said. “You can tell by watching him play that he’s a shooter. You’ve heard the old adage, ‘The next one is always going to go in.’ You can tell he has that attitude. A good shooter might miss five in a row, but I guarantee in his mind, No. 6 is going in. He’s really smooth, and he’s good at driving the ball, but he’s obviously able to shoot the 3-pointer too.”

The 3-pointer wasn’t available to Love back in the day as the shot was introduced to the high school game in the late 1980s. In fact, Love said dunking also was nonexistent as doing so resulted in a technical foul and even doing it in practice wasn’t allowed as Love’s coach said “you play like you practice.” However, the athleticism across the board of today’s players is what sticks out to Love the most.

“It’s such a faster-paced game now than what it used to be, and kids are a lot more athletic because they’re playing year-round,” Love said. “We were of a generation where it wasn’t uncommon to walk the ball up the floor. When the season was over with, we kind of laid the ball down and went to the next sport, and they don’t do that anymore.”

Weber has spent years honing his craft ever since he decided to give basketball a try when he said he was in second or third grade. There were low points early in his career, like when he said would constantly have the ball stolen from him, but he also remembers high points like when he was able to hold his own “against the big dogs” in his first varsity start during his sophomore year.

All of his accomplishments wouldn’t have been possible without his coaches, his teammates and his parents, Weber said. He recalls various talks with head coach Matt Miller encouraging him to try things while balancing that with proper situational basketball, and the support on the court from his teammates and off the court from his parents.

“I just want people to remember by of never being scared to fail,” Weber said. “You always fail over and over. Don’t be scared to fail because you’re going to miss shots.”

Love said he hopes Weber can enjoy the record for a long time like he was able to do.

“He should enjoy the record while he’s got it because, someday, somebody else might be breaking it,” Love said. “We’ll see if it stands for another 48 years.”

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