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Sharp hits 1,000 in tourney win

Correspondent file photo / Lowell Spencer Mathews junior Vinny Sharp, right, shown with coach Mike Weymer, reached the 1,000-point mark for his career last month.

There’s no better feeling than getting a second chance. Mathews basketball player Vinny Sharp got his and made the most of it in the second meeting between the Mustangs and Heartland Christian in a Division IV sectional bracket final last month.

The junior had a giveaway that led to the decisive Heartland Christian bucket that gave the Lions a 63-61 regular-season win. Two weeks later, Sharp got his redemption, reaching the 1,000-point threshold on game-sealing free throws to give Mathews the edge, 67-63, in overtime.

“This was a lot of hard work,” Sharp said about reaching the milestone. “It really is. You just got to work every day. My brother (Mustangs assistant coach Thomas Sharp) tries to push me as hard as I can go. That’s really what it was.”

Going into the game, Sharp wasn’t worried about the ‘redemption’ from his past mistake, he just wanted to take advantage of the second chance and beat Heartland Christian. Despite that, the junior still had thoughts about the milestone rattling around in his brain.

“I just felt so relieved (after getting it),” Sharp said. “Like, that’s all I could think about for nights upon nights and staying up thinking about, ‘What if I don’t get this? What if we lose?’ It’s just hard. So it felt really good to get that out of the way.

“You don’t want to think about that during the game. The most important thing is winning, but it felt really good to get past that, so you don’t have to think about it. I think (the team) was happy for me. I think everybody felt really good about it.”

Mustangs coach Mike Weymer noticed a major change in his star guard after reaching the 1,000-point mark, with Sharp loosening up due to the monkey being off his back.

“I just saw the relief come off of him after that game,” Weymer said about Sharp following the Heartland Christian tournament game. “I would argue that the game that he had in the district semifinals was one of the better games that I’ve ever seen him play. I think he went for 28 and he hit just a ton of shots and he was just a lot more relaxed.”

Mathews has had no shortage of talent over the years. Next season, Sharp has the chance to cement his name atop that list as he closes in on becoming the all-time leading scorer in a Mustangs uniform.

While Sharp won’t catch the school’s all-time leading scorer, Rex Leach, Sharp has a chance to pass Leach’s son, Sean, to be the leading scorer since the Fowler-Vienna merger in 1961.

“I’ve been blessed,” Weymer said. “In my four years as head coach, we’ve had some awesome scorers. My first year as a coach, we had Sean McDivitt and last year, we had Tyler Roscoe, who ended up about 50 points shy of 1,000. With Vinny, this year as a junior, you’ve got an opportunity to potentially set the all-time scoring mark at Mathews next year.

“There’s an asterisk there, obviously, he’s not gonna catch Rex, but that was technically Vienna. Rex’s son Sean has the all-time leading mark at the combined Mathews and I think he’s at about 1,200, so Vinny has a shot at that.”

As for next season, Sharp only has one goal. After getting a taste of playing in the district final this past season against Bristol, Sharp wants to be the one cutting down the nets this time around.

“A district title,” he said. “We made it there this year, now we gotta win one. I think we’ve just got to work on defense and work on all the fundamentals of the game, shooting and everything.”

With how Sharp has grown over the last year, his coach thinks the sky’s the limit.

While the on-court numbers have always impressed — from Sharp’s first game, scoring 25 points as a freshman coming off the bench — Weymer was most impressed with how well Sharp has developed as a leader over the course of his junior season.

“Nobody puts more time into his game than Vinny, he would be in the gym 24/7 if we would allow him,” Weymer said. “He watches more film than anybody on our team and puts a lot of time into his game. The things that I’m the most proud of was, he’s always been the kid to work super hard, and cared about his game, but I saw a lot of growth in Vinny this year as a teammate.

“He just truly grew up this year, embracing being one of the older kids on the team now. Not that I’m not proud of what he does on the floor, but off the floor, I’m even more proud of the way he’s grown up. He was just a more well-rounded player, a better teammate and we’re really proud of him.”

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