March 9th turned out to be a memorable night for boys basketball player Payton Jones, as the senior point guard scored his 1,000th career point as a member of the Trojans. Jones joins an exclusive club as just the second boy and third overall Thornton Academy basketball player to achieve the honor.
“I take great pride in reaching 1,000 points at TA because I’ve always wanted to be a part of Thornton history,” Jones said. “Being one of three is very special company, and I’m very glad that I was able to accomplish that.”
“Payton accomplishing 1000 points is impressive on a couple levels,” varsity head coach Bob Davies said. “Only one other player has ever done it at Thornton Academy for boys and Payton was only allowed 10 games in his senior year. Having a player like Payton in the program has made other players better. It also gives younger players something to strive for.”
Jones needed just 16 points entering his final two games of a shortened senior season due to COVID-19 restrictions. On the road against Gorham, Jones streaked into the lane for a driving layup in the third quarter which put him over the top. The game was stopped shortly for recognition of the achievement, and Jones went on to finish the game with 28 points in a TA win. Jones was also recognized at his last home game two days later with the game ball.
“I honestly didn’t expect to play this season due to COVID,” Jones said. “Not being able to practice and play with this year’s team really didn’t play a factor in our play. We clicked easily and everyone contributed to the team. Not being able to get back to the state championship is very tough and we wanted to get back to that point. We feel we could’ve made a run this year if we had playoffs.”
The only other Thornton Academy players to reach the 1,000 point mark have been Bob Warner ‘72, who scored more than 1,200 career points, and Suzanne Picard Rondeau '98. Warner and Rondeau continued on to have successful college careers and also are members of the Thornton Academy Athletic Hall of Fame. Both are proud of Jones’ achievements.
"Congratulations Payton, on reaching the 1,000 point mark as a TA Trojan!” Warner said. “You are in rarified air indeed, and should be so proud of such a great accomplishment, and equally proud of the hard work and dedication required to reach such a lofty goal. I’m sure that the qualities that have enabled you to succeed on the court will serve you well in life after basketball. Well done Payton."
“Congrats Payton on scoring 1,000 points!” Rondeau said. “I've enjoyed watching you over the years, as you represented Thornton Academy with skill and class. You should be proud of all the hard work that lead up to this milestone. I hope you take time to reflect on the years, months, and hours that you put into the game; that brought you to this moment. Along with the people that have supported, guided, and pushed you to become the player you are. Good luck in your future endeavors; on and off the court.”
The last four years has seen a progression of success for the boys varsity team, culminating in a trip to the Class A State Championship game in the 2019-20 season. Though the game ended in a close defeat to Edward Little, the Trojans were favorites to return to the game, and perhaps win it, going into this season. COVID-19 had other ideas however, as the season was shortened to 10 games and no playoffs were allowed. Jones has played on varsity since his freshman year and says his 1,000 point mark wouldn’t have been possible without help.
“I think that by having four great teams in a row, my personal success is just a byproduct of that, Jones said. “They’ve not only helped me become a better player, they made me a better leader also.”
“Basketball is a team sport and we have been blessed with players that are willing not to chase individual accomplishment over team accomplishments,” Davies said. “They realize the individual accolades will be achieved with the team winning games.”