Shot at history

Senior A.J. Dancler breaks SHS all-time boys basketball scoring record


Grace Elder

Senior A.J. Dancler shoots a free throw at the Southport Fieldhouse on Jan. 21 against the Terre Haute North Patriots. The Cards beat the Patriots 57-36.

On Feb. 4, the Cards boys basketball team took on the Decatur Central Hawks. Normally this would’ve been like any other away game, but 11 points made it different.
Senior A.J. Dancler started the game with a total of 1,357 points over his four years of high school, only 11 points off of beating the previous all-time scoring record. After scoring 20 points during the game, Dancler emerged as the new record holder.
“(Breaking the record) means a lot,” Dancler said. “Being here all four years, working hard, it just means a lot to me.”
Throughout the game, the Hawks were careful to guard Dancler heavily since he’s well known for being able to shoot. It was difficult for him to get his first points in, but as soon as he made his first layup, he got into his usual scoring rhythm.
When he hit the layup that pushed him over the record, the gym erupted in cheers. Head coach Eric Brand called a timeout so that everyone could celebrate it properly, which included the rest of the team flooding onto the court to congratulate him.
Breaking any school record is a huge accomplishment, but this record is especially impressive since Dancler has now passed other basketball legends that went to SHS, including Louie Dampier who went on and played in the American Basketball Association.
However, the record wasn’t Dampier’s before Dancler clinched it for himself. That honor belonged to Kellon Thomas, a 2012 graduate who then went on to play at Kent State University.
“I’ve been blessed to hold the record for about 10 years, and I am happy to see that A.J. has been leading Southport in the right direction,” Thomas said.
On Saturday, knowing that Dancler was close to breaking the record, his family drove to Decatur to watch him play. His mom, Tiea Dancler, said they didn’t even know he was so close to breaking the record until about two weeks ago. But now that he’s broken it, she couldn’t be more proud of what her son has accomplished.
“It’s bittersweet. I’m going to miss it …,” Tiea said. “If I could get another year out of him, I would.”
As Dancler’s senior season nears its end, his new record will be written in the books. But, even though one of his goals has now been checked off the list, Dancler’s work hasn’t stopped yet. Now though, it’s not an individual goal that he’s focused on, he’s now shifted to leading his team to the state championship this March.
“We’re going to work hard in practice,” Dancler said. “We’re really going to be working hard together.”