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Chalker star hits 1,000 as a junior

Submitted photo Chalker’s Jordan Kellar, left, stands with coach Matthew Yoder after becoming the first boys basketball player in the school’s history to reach 1,000 points as a junior.

SOUTHINGTON — For the first time in Chalker boys basketball history, a junior has reached the 1,000-point threshold. Junior Jordan Kellar hit the mark in the team’s last game of the season against Pymatuning Valley.

Knowing that he had the chance to be the first junior to achieve that feat, there was a lot of relief in Kellar’s mind when he scored his 1,000th point at the free throw line late in the game against the Lakers.

“Just a lot of relief and stuff,” Kellar said. “It was a lot of pressure to get it, because it was my junior year, and no boys at my school have ever done that. It was just a lot of relief and a lot of joy.”

As he hit the shot, the buzzer sounded for a timeout giving the team a chance to celebrate.

Chalker coach Matthew Yoder went over to his player, gave him a hug and some advice. Kellar on the other hand, just wanted to get back to the game as quickly as possible.

“Everybody acknowledges him, I go over and I give him a hug and as I’m giving him a hug, I’m giving him instructions on what to do next,” Yoder said. “‘Go over and hug your mom, your dad, tell everybody thank you, you know what to do.’

“He looks at me and goes, ‘Can I just go shoot my other free throw?’ “

While he obviously was excited about making history, the junior isn’t about the pomp and circumstance. Winning was the top priority.

“I just care about playing, getting the win and doing our best as a team,” Kellar said. “I don’t like to be selfish or whatever, so that was really it. I just wanted to get it done with.”

That lack of selfishness translates to his game as well.

While being the team’s leading scorer, averaging 18.8 points per game, Kellar doesn’t actively embrace that role, preferring to get the rest of his team involved.

“I’ve always tried to just fit the role that I need to do and never try and get mine,” Kellar said. “I’m there to just do what’s best for everyone. Distributing, I’ve always been told I do too much. Actually, some people tell me that I need to be a little more selfish. I don’t know, it’s just not really how I am I guess.

“My coach always tells me to be more assertive. That’s definitely something I’m going to be working on this offseason.”

Heading into his senior season, Kellar, the combo guard-forward, wants to put extra time into honing his skills as a ballhandler.

“I want to improve my guard play, like my shooting and I’m going to work on a lot of ballhandling,” Kellar said. “That kind of stuff is really where I think I need to improve the most.”

Kellar and the rest of the Chalker starting five return next season. With chemistry locked down between the players, the Wildcats expect the 2021-22 season to be a fun and successful year.

“We’ve been playing together for two years now and it’s really great to have that team chemistry and play with the people you’ve been playing with,” Kellar said. “We all know the plays. You don’t have to re-go over that as much. It’s really great to play with the same guys. I think we really could have a great season. We just gotta make it happen.”

Prepping for next season was a part of Yoder’s plan this past season, as he scheduled extra games to further acclimate his young lineup to the speed of the varsity game.

“I valued games over practices for us because I thought that it would provide more to us as a program,” Yoder said. “Did we lose some games that we probably could have won if I would have valued practice more? Maybe. We might have had a little bit more success, but I value the games and use them as learning situations and to get better from that aspect rather than practicing to get better.

“When you have a player of Jordan’s caliber, and I started three sophomores this year, and you’re looking at what they’re bringing, number-wise, to the table, you don’t want to take away from them by not being able to play games.”

As for the next level, Kellar hasn’t given too much thought one way or the other, but colleges have shown interest in the junior, which has given him a reinvigorated interest in continuing to play.

“It was a great feeling,” Kellar said. “After I had one really good game, a (college) coach talked to me. It was a great feeling for sure. It definitely pushed me into wanting to keep going.”

Yoder and Keller have been together from the start. Upon moving over to the boys team from the girls team in Kellar’s freshman year, Yoder’s first move as coach was to ensure he’d be beginning his tenure as the boys coach with a talent like Kellar on the team.

“The day I got the email from the athletic director that I got the boys position, I literally got Jordan’s mom’s number, and I called her about five minutes afterward just to make sure that he was gonna stay in Southington,” Yoder said. “There was talk that he might leave and literally within five minutes I was on the phone with his mom making sure he was staying.”

Kellar stuck around and made history for the Wildcats. There’s still one milestone that’s left for him. After the 2020-21 season, Kellar sits at 1,004 points and now has his eyes set on the all-time leader, Trey Tietz, who scored 1,423 in his career with the Chalker.

If all goes well next season, Kellar will be able to set another new standard for the program.

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