WARRENTON - While the upset the Warriors eyed may not have materialized, a marquee moment for its most experienced player did on Friday.
Senior guard Jake Tonioli became the newest member of Warrenton’s 1,000-point club during the team’s 61-55 loss to Gateway Athletic Conference North rival St. Charles at Jacob “Gubber” Boedeker Memorial Gym.
“It’s a great honor and Jake deserves it,” second-year Head Coach Mark Thomas said. “Words don’t do justice for how hard that kid works. I just wish we could have gotten the win on top of it so it’d be a little sweeter memory for him.”
Tonioli’s millenary milestone triggered flashbacks to his most recent predecessor – his brother Alec, who was the first Warrior in over a decade to accomplish the feat when he did it in 2015.
The final steps the siblings took on their path to 1,000 bare an uncannily similar footprint. It’s pretty wild stuff when you compare the games that netted the siblings a grand.
Both were February conference clashes against the Pirates their senior seasons.
Both brothers needed 18 points to cross to the threshold before tipoff.
Both finished with 19, made six two-point field goals and hit the mark on their last make of the game in the second half.
Jake said he was aware of the significance of his next bucket when he scrambled to scoop up a loose ball near half court and drove up the floor on a fastbreak, thinking to himself “Oh, man, I better not miss this one.” He didn’t, kissing a layup off the glass for points 1,000 and 1,001, which chiseled what had been a 12-point Warrenton deficit in the opening stages of the second half down to three points with 1:10 remaining. A timeout was called so he could commemorate the moment with teammates and coaches.
“This means a lot,” Tonioli said. “I’ve worked for it since I was a freshman. At the same time, it’s kind of been a burden on my shoulders lately so I’m glad to get it over with and get it off. All my teammates helped me get here. They deserve a lot of the credit and I can’t thank them enough.”
The Warriors never got closer than three to the Pirates, who iced things at the charity stripe in the final minute, but it was one of the most solid overall efforts of the campaign from Thomas’ squad, which was coming off a disappointing 30-point loss dished out by New Haven in the consolation championship at the 40th annual Hermann Tournament.
“I’m not big on moral victories but we played hard and we played well tonight,” Thomas said. “I’m proud of the fight we showed against a team that’s as well-coached and as good as St. Charles is. We really locked into the game plan. There’s just a few things here and there that cost us, but I thought we had chances.”
Warrenton did a better job of handling the Pirates’ 6-foot-6 senior center Braden Wiggs, who had 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting in the teams’ first meeting, a 75-64 St. Charles triumph in mid-January. This go-round Wiggs shot just 5-of-12 from the field but made 7-of-11 free throws and finished with 17 points to go along with nine rebounds and three blocks.
Senior forward Courtney Anderson nearly matched him with 17 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, and hit an eye-popping half-court 3 at the end of the first quarter. Senior guard Cameron Teson had 13 points with seven assists and three steals for the visitors, who improved to 11-8 overall and remain tied with St. Charles West for the top spot in the conference standings. The two schools split their two GAC North games with each other and haven’t lost to anyone else.
After Tonioli’s game-high 19, junior guard Dylan Smith finished with 14 points and was lights out from behind the arc, going 4-for-5 while knocking down three treys in the fourth. Travis Toebben had seven points and Blayne Prenger, CJ Schwerdt and Sam Toenges had four apiece. Brady Nelson canned his lone shot of the game, a 3 off a dish from Schwerdt early in the first.
Warrenton, now 6-14 with a 1-4 conference mark, honored its six seniors at home versus Clopton on Wednesday after Record deadline and visits Winfield to continue league play Friday. Warrenton won the first meeting 73-54 on Jan. 18.
As for Tonioli, who’s averaging 18.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and two steals per game this season, he said he’s decided that he more than likely won’t play basketball in college. But whatever he decides to invest his time into he’ll probably be successful at it based off the work ethic he developed in high school.
Former Warrenton Head Coach Mike Uffmann, now at Ft. Zumwalt North, said after the final game of Tonioli’s freshman season, he was still in the gym the next day taking shots on his own and that Uffmann would sometimes meet with him during his lunch period his sophomore year for extra shooting practice.
Tonioli’s drive for round ball stayed the course when Thomas took the helm of the Warrenton program his junior year.
“Jake’s really put in the time,” Thomas said. “His 1,000 points didn’t just come from chucking up bad shots over the years. It came from being in the gym, being in the weight room, watching film and just being a student of the game. A big congratulations to him and everyone in his family. We’re appreciative of what he brings and he’ll be missed.”
But before Tonioli hangs up his sneakers for good, there’s still a few more games left this season and still time to accomplish another personal goal – finish with more points than Alec, who scored 63 more points in his prep career after clocking 1,000.
“Of course, I want to score more points than my brother, just because he’s my brother,” Tonioli said.