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It was fitting Westminster Christian center Ian Dutcher broke out his latest weapon to score the 1,000th point of his career in Elgin Friday night.
Dutcher, a 6-foot-8˝ senior, has evolved and improved throughout each of his three varsity seasons. Besides completing more putbacks than a remorseful shopper, he worked tirelessly with the Warriors coaching staff last summer to add a midrange jump shot to an arsenal that also includes hooks.
With 2:52 left in the second quarter of a 71-21 blowout of Northeast Athetic Conference foe Alden-Hebron, Dutcher caught Andrew Mason's low-post entry pass along the baseline right, turned, squared and drained a tough-angle jumper from 12 feet.
The basket gave him 8 points for the evening — all the Westminster Christian big man needed to reach the 1,000-point plateau for his career. Dutcher became the seventh player in program history to achieve the milestone.
"I guess it's a pretty good feeling," he said. "I know I couldn't have done it without all my teammates last year, the year before and this year throwing me the ball down in the post. It's just a great feeling, but I also know I couldn't have done it without those guys."
The game was halted momentarily with Alden-Hebron's blessing as Westminster Christian athletic director Rick Palmer presented Dutcher with the ball he used to reach the milestone.
Dutcher immediately jogged over to the stands and passed the ball to his mother, who knows a thing or two about scoring points herself.
Dutcher's mother is Star (Rodman) Dutcher, an Elgin High graduate and former standout basketball player at Judson University, where she remains fifth on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,256 career points. Star Rodman Dutcher was inducted into the Judson Hall of Fame in 2005.
Ian Dutcher was pleased to demonstrate the latest addition to his arsenal to score the memorable bucket.
"Last year I didn't really shoot," he said. "I was just trying to make layups. But this year I think I've improved on my jump shot and my hook shot."
Dutcher also has more than 600 career rebounds to his credit, second in school history to Joel Benson.
"Size has obviously been a great contributing factor to his success, whether it's rebounding or defense," Westminster Christian coach Bruce Firchau said. "And he's really starting to develop post moves around the basket.
"What he does for his teammates out there is he really opens it up for them on the perimeter. They passed up many shots today but we said, 'Guys, they're collapsing (on Dutcher), so you need to look for the outside shot a little bit, too.'"
The Warriors heeded their coach's instructions. They finished the game with six 3-pointers. Andrew Mason sank a pair from long range and scored 14 points, second only to Dutcher's 18.
The victory was the ninth in a row for Westminster Christian (18-4, 5-1), which tied a school record for consecutive wins. But no one's satisfied just yet.
"That's pretty good, but we still have to clean up a lot of things," said Mason, whose team won the turnover battle 19-11 and the rebounding battle 40-27.
"We're getting a little sloppy at times. But we're doing pretty good right now. Hopefully, we can keep it rolling through regionals."
Alden-Hebron (5-15, 1-5) scored only 4 points in the second half, none in the fourth quarter, when they shot 0 of 11. Shane Engelbrecht led the Giants with 8 points.
The Warriors can complete an undefeated home schedule with a win tonight on Senior Night against IMSA.
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