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Basketball

RISING TO THE TOP

BASKETBALL: Mascenic star Jared Stauffeneker reached 1,000 career points in his junior year

  • Mascenic junior Jared Stauffeneker scored his 1,000th career point on Feb. 25, 2014
  • Mascenic junior Jared Stauffeneker scored his 1,000th career point on Feb. 25, 2014
  • Mascenic junior Jared Stauffeneker scored his 1,000th career point on Feb. 25, 2014
  • mascenic boys basketball v conant

He’s just too quick. Mascenic opponents who have been tasked with the unappealing assignment of defending junior Jared Stauffeneker will all tell you the same thing — speed is the weapon of choice for the wiry young redhead. This season, that quickness helped him achieve one of high school basketball’s greatest milestones — scoring 1,000 career points — and naturally, he did it faster than almost anyone else ever has.

Most high school players who reach that magical 1,000 figure do so in their senior year, of course, and often toward the latter half of it; however, it should come as no surprise that Stauffeneker was able to achieve that mark as a junior. After all, he’s been playing up to the level of older competition for his entire life. Whether he was playing in a 12-year-old baseball all-star tournament at the age of 10, making the Boynton Middle School basketball team as a sixth-grader, or starting for Mascenic’s soccer, basketball and baseball teams as a freshman, Stauffeneker’s always been athletically precocious.

“There’s just not many freshmen that can go into a school and start three varsity sports,” said Dutch Stauffeneker, Jared’s dad. “It was really a good experience for him in all three sports, just to get out there and mix it up with juniors and seniors and that physicality of every game, it’s just a different level in high school. It really helped him along the way.”

That amped-up. experienced competition pushed Jared to bring his game to the next level.

“I think playing to a higher level has definitely improved my game every year so far,” he said. He remembers one particular game against Campbell in which he was guarded by with the Cougars’ Jesiah Wade that was a real eye-opener.

“He was probably one of the best defenders in the state,” Stauffeneker said. “He matched up on me and that was brutal because he’s so physical. He definitely helped me out because now I’ve become a lot stronger with the ball, a lot quicker and I can get to the hoop a lot better and finish in traffic. So it’s definitely improved my game all around.”

In Jared’s sophomore year, the basketball world had no choice but to take notice of his skills, as he exploded for a scoring season the likes of which has rarely been seen. By the time he set the school record for single game scoring — 57 in a game against Monadnock — he was on the radar of opponents around Division III. Battling against the likes of older players like Monadnock’s Isaiah Prince, Conant’s Rob O’Brien and Campbell’s Max Gouveia, Stauffeneker rose to each challenge, excelling in some and learning from others.

Matt Cyr, Mascenic’s senior captain, has been playing sports with Stauffeneker for most of his life, and he’s still continually in awe of the well-rounded game he brings to the table.

“He is a scoring machine,” Cyr said. “He has so many different ways of picking apart defenses. He has incredible dribbling skill, which allows him to break down defenders and lets him drive the lane for easy buckets inside the paint. He can create shots, he can shoot from anywhere on the court, and he can drop the long ball with ease, with or without a defender in his face. When games are on the line he steps up to the challenge, calm and maintaining his composure. And the funniest part about watching him is that he’s not stopping for anything!”

Stauffeneker certainly didn’t stop after that sophomore season; with the confidence in his shot and his leadership abilities both on the rise, he was poised for a big junior year. And after all that scoring, the 1,000-point milestone was already in reach.

“Everybody knows Jared is a pure scorer and one of the best around,” Cyr said. “It comes so naturally to him. So when people started talking about Jared scoring 1,000 points, it was something I think most people were expecting. But that isn’t an easy thing, and it hasn’t been done for quite a while. But this kid just played.”

Beyond the normal challenges of performing at a high level in high school hoops, Stauffeneker was now faced with dual pressures. His classmates, neighbors and Mascenic fans of all sorts were eagerly anticipating that historic moment when he’d reach 1,000 points, while his opponents were doing their best to stop him, knowing he was the Vikings’ best offensive option by a long shot.

“It’s a lot tougher to go the hoop this year than it was last year,” Stauffeneker said in an interview toward the end of his junior year. “I’ve definitely taken my bumps and bruises this year. I like having a challenge though, too. This year has really proven to me that it’s more of a team effort to win games. It’s awesome winning games this year. It’s not about me carrying the team anymore, it’s about distributing the ball and getting team wins, not just one player scoring 40 points. It’s a lot more satisfying to win when I score 20 points, Shane [Rautiola] scores 15 and Damon [Gibson] scores 10.”

Game in, game out, the expectation that he’d keep up his prolific scoring pervaded the crowd; it can’t be easy to be a distributor when everyone in the building is waiting for you to score. But as the season progressed, Stauffeneker became more and more at ease passing the ball out of the double teams he faced on a nightly basis, racking up assists and gaining the trust in his teammates necessary to win big games.

“The main thing with Jared is how important his teammates are to him and how important he is to his teammates,” Vikings coach Jay Starr said. “He has that intensity that other kids thrive off of.”

Stauffeneker’s ability to share the ball and work with his teammates hasn’t gone unnoticed by opponents like Monadnock senior Isaiah Prince, the Huskies standout who reached the 1,000-point mark himself this season.

“He has kids that do their job to get him open,” Prince said, “and he does whatever he can to get them open. It’s all teamwork, trust and they trust him a lot.”

Prince has been on the receiving end of several of Stauffeneker’s biggest scoring nights as the two dueled over the years, so when Mascenic’s final game against Monadnock this winter came along with Stauffeneker sitting at 962 points, the anticipation was palpable in the Vikings’ home gym.

“When he was coming really close to his 1,000th point, I think everyone could just feel it,” Cyr said. “And the entire team was excited about it too.”

Seemingly everything Stauffeneker put up that night went in, something that seems to happen for the young scorer more often than not.

“He almost gets in a zone, I think sometimes,” Starr said, “where he’s so determined for not only him to score, but for all of us to score.”

“It just happens,” Stauffeneker said. “I never really think that much about my game. I just let it come to me. Everything’s just the same every game. I just focus, I’m kind of quiet, not really too out there.”

Stauffeneker scored 27 in the first half and then scored his 1,000th point on a layup early in the fourth quarter, bringing down the house in a burst of red, white and blue pandemonium.

“The entire gym was going crazy,” Cyr said, “and it was the loudest I’ve ever heard the fans!”

“I’m so happy for that kid,” Prince said after the game. “The kid just works hard on offense, defense, everything, so I’m proud of him. My thing was to try and stop Jared today — [laughs] I guess it didn’t work out. I’m proud of him and I’m proud he got his thousandth today.”

The action was briefly stopped for a ceremony honoring Stauffeneker and his parents; after the game, a Mascenic win, Stauffeneker celebrated with members of the Vikings’ 1,000-point club, including his head coach Jay Starr and Mascenic’s athletic director, Kevin Rines (who is Mascenic’s all-time leading boys basketball scorer as well as Stauffeneker’s uncle).

“We’re definitely real proud of him,” Starr said. “It was really cool that night that we were both there and able to give him the game ball.”

Stauffeneker was understandably excited after reaching that amazing milestone.

“It’s definitely a big accomplishment for me to do it as a junior,” he said. “Just to even score 1,000 is a big accomplishment. It’s one of the higher accomplishments of my life.”

Even after such a feat, Stauffeneker kept a good head on his shoulders.

“For a kid that’s scoring a thousand points as a junior,” Starr said, “it’s not like he has this big ego like it’s all about him, and that really speaks to his character.”

“The best part about it was how Jared took it,” Cyr said. “He was humble to the very end and is still a humble player. He still went out and competed his heart out and as a teammate I couldn’t ask for more out of a player.”

That attitude is something was instilled in Stauffeneker from day one by his parents, Dutch and Kristen.

“There’s a lot more swag in the game these days than there used to be,” Dutch said. “Not that that’s a bad thing, but it can be sometimes. It just is a little over the top.”

“My biggest thing with Jared has always been don’t be arrogant, don’t be cocky, don’t hang your wrist,” said Kristen. “I always say to him ‘No gangster stuff, no signs.’ ”

It’s something that Stauffeneker embodies to this day.

“I think one of the biggest things that bugs me is trash talking,” Stauffeneker said. “A lot of kids like to do it. Sometimes it gets in my head, sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s kind of the biggest pet peeve of mine is when people just trash talk. There’s no point in it, really. I’ve learned that it’s not going to get me anywhere, it’s not going to help me in any way, so I’ve learned to just let it be and ignore and focus on my game, not theirs.”

Stauffeneker and the Vikings went on to the playoffs; they were eliminated at the hands of the Conant Orioles in a phenomenal game. The season may be over, but Mascenic‘s on the path to success with Stauffeneker ready to step into a leadership role for his senior year.

“Next year for his fourth and final year I think we can all expect great things from this kid,” Cyr said, “because not only does this kid have talent, but he competes with a heart of a champion.”

“Next year we’re going to have a good team,” Stauffeneker said. “We’re only losing two seniors, one starter in Matt [Cyr]. He’s a great kid, probably one of my best friends on the team, best friends in school. But I definitely think next year we’ll have one of the best teams in the state in Division III.”

And while next year looks good for Mascenic, the future may be even brighter, as Stauffeneker’s lead a culture change of sorts surrounding New Ipswich hoops.

“He has changed the way how a lot of the community actually thinks about basketball,” Starr said. “He’s a real good role model for young kids to come watch play. He’s kind of changed the identity of Mascenic basketball. I think Mascenic basketball had been more of just something to do in the winter, as opposed to those guys down the road, where basketball is life. It was almost like a secondary sport at Mascenic. Now, so many more young kids play AAU. A lot of kids are starting to take basketball more seriously.”

Luckily for area basketball fans, some of those youngsters are Stauffenekers themselves. Jared’s the oldest of four boys and a girl, and odds are they’ll be making their way to the court in the near future as well. Freshman Brett is already on Mascenic’s team, and he, along with sixth-grader Sammy, third-grader Adam and Jared, are honing their skills through endless battles in the Stauffeneker garage, where two hoops adorn the walls.

“We like to just beat up on each other in the garage,” Jared said, “playing two on two, arguing over everything. Sometimes people will go in the house crying asking “Dad, can you come ref?”

Just like his older brothers before him, Adam can now be found dribbling around in the garage until all hours of the night, a Stauffeneker family trait that’s driven tenants out of the apartment above the garage once or twice over the years. He’ll likely follow in his brothers’ footsteps and play for Mascenic one day; when that day comes, the odds are good that a Stauffeneker will already be atop the Vikings’ all-time scoring list. Rines ended his career with 1,274 points, and Shaw is atop the heap at 1,350 — both attainable given Jared’s prolific scoring output.

“When it’s all said and done, I think he’ll be the leading scorer at Mascenic,” Starr said.

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