In case any Ozark fans wondered, Ethan Whatley wouldn’t have preferred to reach 1,000 points Friday in a customary manner to serve as a reflection of his road to four figures.
The Tigers senior forward has repeatedly scored over three seasons with 3-pointers and breakaway layups.
With zero dunks on his highlights reel, Whatley felt it was appropriate to enter a whole new world as a member of Ozark’s 1,000-point club by scoring in a whole new manner. His first career dunk pushed his career points total to 999 and 1,000 in the final minute of the Tigers’ 74-61 win versus Glendale.
He needed 15 points Friday to get to 1,000 and he got 15.
“I looked up and saw I had 13 points and there was :52 left. I was thinking, ‘There’s no way I’m going to get it,’” Whatley said. “Then, a couple seconds later I had a wide-open fast break. I like getting it with my first dunk.”
“To have his first dunk in a game come on his 1,000th point is special,” coach Mark Schweitzer said. “That’s pretty memorable. I’m proud of him and I’m happy for him. It was a good cap to a hard-fought win against a rival.”
It appeared for most of the game that Whatley would have to wait until next week’s game with Nixa on Tuesday to reach 1,000 points.
Ozark led 20-9 after the first quarter without Whatley scoring a point. He had a modest five points at halftime.
The Tigers upped their lead to 20 points in the second quarter and Schweitzer began going a bit deeper to his bench than usual.
But a Glendale rally in the second half kept Ozark’s regular rotation players on the court up to the final seconds.
“It kind of worked out in my favor that they came back, not that I wanted them to come back,” Whatley said. “But I would have rather got (the milestone) tonight and not worry about it again. That’s one of those achievements you don’t want to have to worry about it, you want to get it and move on.”
“It’s a big achievement,” he added. “To score in four digits is pretty big.”
Whatley is the first Ozark player to join the Tigers’ 1,000-point club since 2020 grad A.J. Elliott.
“Most of my buckets are off of my teammates’ passes,” Whatley said. “I’ve got to thank everyone of my teammates from A.J. to (Jake) Skaggs to Zo (Riwa) all the way to Owen (Brockman), Kyle Flavin and Blaine (Cline) and all my teammates this year. I thank all of them for all the assists and getting me here.”