Dressler stamps name into EJ history
Tigers’ senior scores 1,000th point in loss
COCOLAMUS — As Wayne Dressler exited the locker room and made his way back to East Juniata’s gymnasium, he was greeted by a small crowd of family, friends and teammates, all looking to extend their congratulation to the new addition to the Tigers’ 1,000-point club.
Dressler became just the eighth player in the history of the East Juniata’s boys basketball program to accomplish the feat in the Tigers’ 61-49 loss to Millersburg on Wednesday night.
Late in the first quarter, Dressler put up a difficult floater in the lane, surrounded by a swarm of Millersburg defenders. As the ball swished through the net, the socially-distanced crowd went wild, acknowledging the history they just witnessed.
The game was paused, and Dressler was honored for his accomplishment as his mother and father made their way down onto the court to take a picture with their son, who was holding maroon and gray balloons in one hand, and a sign in the other.
“I would say it was a little bit of a goal,” Dressler admitted about wanting to reach the 1,000-point mark. “But like they say, I just go out there and play basketball.”
Dressler himself kept things simple and he was rewarded for his efforts with a black T-shirt with that same phrase — “I just play basketball.”
While the mantra is simple, just being a basketball player doesn’t do Dressler’s skillset justice. He’s a hard-nosed player who isn’t afraid to take the ball to the rim and get hit hard while going up for a layup. His style of play and his personality have made him a favorite amongst teammates who were thrilled to see him reach this milestone.
“The kids love him,” Tigers’ coach Justin Hazel said. “He’s an interesting individual and the kids like being around him.”
Scoring 1,000 points requires countless hours of hard work and dedication to the team, but Dressler brings more to the table than just scoring. He throws his body around the court grabbing rebounds and diving on the ground for loose balls and arguably most important of all, he trusts his teammates and isn’t afraid to make a pass if he doesn’t have an open look at the basket.
“He’s a big part of our team, obviously. Some nights he can do a lot of good things and that’s beneficial for us,” Hazel said. “He rebounds, he shoots, he passes–he’s a big help to our team.”
Dressler was modest when asked to speak on his accomplishment, deferring to talking about his work ethic and what he brings to the team rather than the glitz and glamour that comes with scoring 1,000 points.
“The main thing I did was just giving effort and working hard and I got the points that I got,” Dressler explained.
Wednesday’s celebration of Dressler came after a Tuesday night game in which he needed just 12 points to eclipse the 1,000 mark. He helped East Juniata secure a 40-34 win over Halifax but scored just six points.
Dressler admitted that there might have been some nerves going into that matchup against Halifax, but knowing he had Wednesday to hit his mark in front of the home fans eased some of that pressure.
“I would say there was a little bit of nerves, but I just played hard,” Dressler said. “If it’s an off-night, then it’s an off-night. I’m limited by how the game is going.”
Perhaps the most unusual aspect to Dressler’s accomplishment is that in his four years as a Tiger, he has had three different coaches. While that made it hard for him, and the team to get into a consistent rhythm, knowing he had to prove himself to new coaches helped him become the elite scorer that he is.
Dressler had Steve Smith for his first two seasons, Chris Wolfkill for his junior season, and now Hazel for his senior year.
“It definitely affects you having different coaches,” Dressler said. “You play for one coach for a couple of years, and you’re solidified as a good basketball player. Then the next coach asks you to prove yourself, so it was definitely hard because some coaches have more faith in you (than others).”
The carousel of coaches did not change the amount of effort Dressler gave, always putting in 100 percent to every game and practice.
“Like I said, I always go out there and go hard no matter what coach you give me,” Dressler said.
The night and celebration were not hampered by the Tigers’ loss to a lethal Millersburg team. Tanner Barth scored 19, while Dressler added 18 points, but they came up a little short. Millersburg outscored the Tigers 16-6 in the third quarter to pull away.
The Tigers, who lost to Millersburg by 25 points the first time the teams met, rebounded and made Wednesday night’s game more competitive. One poor quarter was all it took for East Juniata to come out on the short end.
East Juniata held the Tri-Valley League’s leading scorer Christian Bingaman — who averaged 25.33 points per game entering Wednesday night — in check through one half but Bingaman scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half.
“This was a good game for us, regardless of the outcome,” Hazel said. “I’m not a moral victory kind of guy, but I think it gives the guys confidence at this time of the year to hang with a team like that… We probably won’t see anybody as good (as Millersburg) in Districts.”
Millersburg 61, East Juniata 49
Christian Bingaman 6 5-6 19, Devyn Kintzer 7 3-6 17, Kyle Casner 3 0-0 7, Tate Etzweiler 3 1-2 7, Isaiah Dyer 3 0-0 6, Dillan Gray 2 0-1 5, Nate Dohrman 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 9-15 61.
3-point goals: Bingaman 2, Casner, Gray.
Rebounds: Etzweiler 8, Kintzer 5, Bingaman 4, Dyer 2, Dohrman, Gray.
Assists: Kintzer 4, Bingaman 2, Dyer 2, Etzweiler, Dohrman.
Steals: Bingaman 4, Dyer 3, Kintzer 3, Casner, Etzweiler.
Tanner Barth 6 4-6 19, Wayne Dressler 8 2-3 18, Brody Powell 0 5-6 5, Owen Dressler 1 0-0 3, Dylan Wagner 1 0-1 2, Rowan Smith 0 2-2 2, Ethan Roe 0 0-0 0, Gannon Ryan 0 0-0 0, Clark RItzman 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 13-18 49.
3-point goals: Barth 3, O. Dressler.
Rebounds: W. Dressler 7, Barth 4, Powell 4, Smith 3, Roe 2, O. Dressler, Wagner, Clark RItzman.
Assists: Barth, Roe, O. Dressler, W. Dressler, Powell, Smith.
Steals: Barth, O. Dressler, W. Dressler, Ryan, Smith.
SCORE BY QUARTER
M: 22-10-16-13 61
EJ: 16-10-6-17 49