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Going into Kennard-Dale’s game against Columbia, Rams boys’ basketball coach Jake Roupe knew it would be a memorable contest.

Junior guard Carter Day needed 12 points to become the program’s ninth 1,000-point scorer. Averaging nearly 32 points per game at the time, it wasn’t a question of if the team would celebrate the milestone, but how.

Before  the Dec. 27 game, Day was concerned that the achievement he had dreamed of reaching since his first high school game would take away from the task at hand — namely winning. It’s his desire to win that Roupe believes is Day’s best attribute, despite being the York-Adams League’s leading scorer at 29.8 points per game.

“He came up to me and he said, ‘Coach, they’re not going to stop the game are they,’” Roupe said. “I said, ‘Yeah, they’re going to stop the game, buddy.’ He just wanted to get it and keep playing.”

Back to the game: He did indeed get it. In fact, he made it a point to reach the 1,000 mark as fast as possible.

Day had 12 points in the first quarter. He eclipsed the prestigious point total on a free throw, handed the ball to his family in the stands and got back into the game. 

The achievement was a proud moment for Day, but at that time, his attention was locked on the rest of the game.

“I just wanted to get it over with so I could focus on the game,” Day said. “I hit 12 points in the first quarter. That was more of my demeanor was like, 'I want to hit it in the first quarter so I have these last three quarters to focus on the game,' rather than go through the whole game like, ‘oh I gotta hit my 1,000 points' and be worrying about that.”

The Rams lost the game, and for Day, the moment was slightly spoiled because of the defeat.

Becoming a leader: Roupe said the 5-foot, 9-inch guard has developed into a leader for the Rams this season. Day’s career began as the lone freshman in a starting lineup full of seniors. That team finished 19-9 and advanced to the state 4-A playoffs.

Since then, wins have been tougher to come by down in Fawn Grove. K-D finished 7-15 last season and sits at 4-6 this season.

Still, Day has worked hard to become a player his teammates can look to for guidance. 

The lofty scoring averages and 40-point performances are special, but for Day winning games and getting the team into postseason play is the goal. Right now, the best way he knows how to do that is to score points, and he’s doing just that. 

“The 30 points per game is pretty cool, but I more look at it as, I want to learn how to win,” Day said. “The reason I get those points is because I’m trying to win, but I would rather win and have 20 points than have 40 points and lose.” 

Roupe added that Day’s ability to destroy opposing defenses has allowed his teammates to develop into key roles on the team. Senior Zach Waltrup is fourth in the Y-A League in 3-pointers and Roupe credits the attention that Day draws and his willingness to pass for a large number of those points.

Embracing the challenge: Learning how to become a leader while reaching his personal goals has been a challenge for Day, but he’s up for it. While he’s been successful on fulfilling his goal to raise his scoring average 10 points each season, the next step is to do the same with the Rams’ number of wins.

As he grows on and off the court, Day is trying to discover the perfect balance between getting his own points and winning games. If he can find it, the Rams will reach their goals while Day reaches his own.

“I want to be able to score and win,” Day said. “It’s tough. It’s a whole different game to learn how to win, rather than score points.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.

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