WILLARD — Ethan Sauder appreciated the gesture, but Lucas’ senior point guard had bigger fish to fry.
He had a team to lead and a game to win.
Sauder had just knocked down a jumper from the right elbow with 5:53 remaining in the opening period of Tuesday’s Division IV district semifinal game against top-seeded South Central when Lucas coach Taylor Iceman unexpectedly signaled for a 30 second timeout.
Many of the 300 or so fans inside Willard’s Robert L. Haas Gymnasium were scratching their heads as to the nature of Iceman’s quick timeout. It wasn’t until after the public address announcer informed the crowd that Sauder had just scored his 1,000th career point that they understood. The Lucas faithful stood and roared their approval.
Sauder became the eighth player in program history to top the 1,000-point mark, not that it mattered much at the moment. The four-year letterman was able to reflect on the momentous occasion after the fifth-seeded Cubs (18-7) put the finishing touches on the 34-26 upset victory.
“It’s something you want to accomplish and be up there in the record books,” said Sauder, who scored a game-high 11 points while deftly directing the Lucas offense. “It means a lot to be up there with a lot of great people.”
Always a facilitator, Sauder already owns the school single-game, single-season and career assists records. He quietly scored a what was then a freshman-record 189 points during the 2017-18 season —a mark eclipsed this season by Logan Toms. Still, Sauder never averaged more than 9.4 points a game until this year, instead setting up career scoring leader and 2020 graduate Logan Niswander and Riley Gossom, who would have broke Niswander’s career mark were it not for a serious injury suffered in an automobile accident before the start of the season.
Consequently, Sauder had to take on a more active role as a scorer.
“It’s been a learning process for me. I’ve never really had to score a lot,” said Sauder earlier in the season. “I just love to pass. I’m taking a different role this year and it’s been hard, but we’ve progressed.”
Fellow senior Ethan Wallace never doubted his classmate.
“I knew he could do it and everybody else knew he could do it,” Wallace said. “He’s that kind of kid. He’s a scorer. He won’t tell you that, but he knows he is.”
Iceman wasn’t surprised to see Sauder flourish in his new role.
“We’ve had to ask (Sauder) to do a lot more for us this year,” Iceman said. “He has responded the way we thought he would.”
Next up for Sauder and the Cubs is a district final showdown against Norwalk St. Paul at 7 p.m. Friday in Willard. Lucas will look to defend its district title after advancing to the Sweet 16 last year.
“I think we’ve got a good chance,” Sauder said before Norwalk upset Margaretta in the nightcap of Tuesday’s district semifinal doubleheader. “I’m excited for whoever we play.”