The Post-Journal

The Night That Maceo Went For 53

Maceo Wofford scores a layup.
In this Feb. 12, 1999 file photo, Jamestown’s Maceo Wofford drives to the basket for a layup en route to his school-record 53 points. P-J file photo.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Former Jamestown High School basketball star Maceo Wofford celebrated his birthday earlier this week. In celebration, The Post-Journal is running a story that first appeared on Feb. 12, 1999, the night he scored a school-record 53 points.

Maceo Wofford saved his best for last.

Playing in his final regular-season home game, the senior point guard poured in a school-record 53 points to lift the Jamestown Red Raiders to an 88-62 victory over Hamburg in an Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division 1 basketball game before a standing-room-only crowd at McElrath Gymnasium.

“It feels great because I worked hard to get where I am,” Wofford said. “My family is proud of me and my teammates are proud of me. It feels great to be known as one of the elite athletes in Western New York.”

No one can dispute that.

Check out the numbers: 19 of 31 from the field, 14 of 18 from the foul line, 14 rebounds, six assists and eight steals.

And it was his final shot with 3:28 remaining, a jumper from the wing with a Hamburg player draped all over him, that kissed off the glass and through the net, pushing him past Justin Johnson, who set the previous record of 51 in February 1994.

When the ball fell through, Wofford raised his arms in triumph and a broad smile creased his face. Only when he arrived at the foul line to complete the three-point play did the unthinkable happen.

After four years, Wofford finally lost his composure.

Bent over at the waist, he began to cry.

“When I made the bucket, I put my arms up in joy,” Wofford said. “When I went to the foul line tears started coming down my cheek. Right then I knew I wasn’t going to make the foul shot. My mind was just blank.”

But he left the crowd of more than 2,000 with plenty to remember.

Jumpers, drives to the basket and a thunderous two-handed dunk were all part of Wofford’s repertoire against a Hamburg team that was set on stopping him at all costs.

It didn’t matter.

“I was at the YMCA shooting before the game, telling myself that tonight could be a big night for me,” Wofford said. “I was just feeling it. Coach just told me to keep shooting and the shots dropped. I was focused.”

After scoring 10 points in the first quarter, Wofford erupted for 22 in the second period to highlight a 33-9 Jamestown run that put the game away.

Trailing 51-24 at halftime, the Bulldogs spent much of the second half in a verbal sparring match with the officials. Eric Karjel, who received a technical foul in the third quarter, was very vocal after the game, particularly as it related to the ejection of Jacob Nuncio after the sophomore was whistled for a flagrant foul in the third quarter.

“Would they have beaten us tonight with Maceo playing the way he was? Yeah,” Karjel said, “but we never had a chance because of the officiating.”

See MACEO, Page B2

But by the time Nuncio went to the bench, the Red Raiders led, 65-42, and the only suspense remaining was if Wofford was going to get the single-game scoring mark.

“He earned every one of them,” Jamestown coach Ben Drake said. “He had no easy points. He got some easy baskets, but he had to get his way in there. He just seemed to find a way. It didn’t matter what defense. When he wants to, he’s able to turn it up a notch. He just played at a different level than the other nine guys on the floor tonight.”

In the big picture, the victory was the Red Raiders’ 13th straight, raising their 16-2 overall and 9-2 in the division. A win Wednesday at West Seneca West would secure at least a share of the division title.

“Right now we’re playing great as a team,” Wofford said. “We’re doing everything as a team. Our half-court defense is coming along well and our offense is playing well, too. We’re just where we want to be. We’re focused on our next league game. We just have to come out and play hard.”

Nobody played harder last night than No. 12.

"He’s the best,” Karjel said. “I think Iona’s got a steal.”

NOTES: Wofford raised his career scoring mark to 1,079 points, moving him pst Christian Laettner and into eighth place on the all-time Western New York list. … Before the game, Wofford was honored for being a nominee to the McDonald’s All-American team.

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