Sahuaro’s AJ Bonapart eclipses 1,000 career points

Sahuaro takes a moment to celebrate AJ Bonapart reaching 1,000 career points during the first quarter of the Cougars’ win over CDO (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Yet another local high school basketball player reached 1,000 career points this season with Sahuaro senior guard AJ Bonapart achieving the feat in an 81-20 win over visiting CDO on Monday night.

Bonapart entered the game needing one point to reach the milestone. It took her at least five shots from the floor — and missed two free throws in the process — before she made a fadeaway jumper on the baseline while being fouled late in the first quarter.

“We were joking about it — I think that point was the toughest that she’s ever tried to make in her career,” Botkin said. “I think she missed like three 3’s and she was really trying. Everybody was really trying to get her the ball. They wanted her to get that 1,000.

“Super proud. That’s a tough club to get to — 1,000 points — and she did that in three years.”

It was three years ago, when Bonapart was a freshman, when Sahuaro legend Alyssa Brown scored 932 points in one season to reach 2,094 as a junior.

Bonapart had the opportunity to celebrate her memorable moment on Senior Night before her Sahuaro career came to an end.

“It was pure joy,” Bonapart said she she saw her fadeaway go into the basket. “I worked all four years to get this far to get it.”

Bonapart basically played only three seasons to reach the 1,000-point plateau because she did not score as a freshman, joining the team after playing mostly at the junior varsity.

She is now at 1,018 points in 108 career games. She was at 553 points entering the season.

“It wasn’t easy getting there and I didn’t want to rush it because I’m a team player,” she said. “It came naturally.”

Bonapart had 19 points in the win over CDO while Cassandra Coolidge, a junior, outscored the Dorados on her own with 21. Nelly Ponds, also a senior, finished with 20.

Ponds is at 782 points in her career.

Coolidge is on track to eclipse 1,000 points next season. She’s at 840.

Among the others locally to reach 1,000 points this season includes Tucson’s Garbriella Sanchez, Flowing Wells’ Navine Mallon, Catalina Foothills’ Reilly Clark, Pusch Ridge’s Molly Garnand, Cholla’s Masai Dean Jr. and Pueblo’s Isaiah Hill.

Salpointe’s 7-0 record in the 4A Kino heading into Wednesday’s home game against Sahuaro is the most remarkable team feat in the state during the regular season.

If the Lancers defeat the Cougars — they took the first game 57-31 at McKale Center as part of the MLK Classic on Jan. 16 — they would run the table in the most difficult region in the state.

Entering Monday’s games, three of the 4A Kino schools were ranked in the 32-team Open Division — No. 9 Salpointe, No. 20 Pueblo and No. 27 Sahuaro — and Flowing Wells was close at No. 36. Those four schools combine for a record of 79-22.

“I was talking with (coach) Michael Perkins over at Flowing Wells last week and we hoped that these games can get us tournament ready,” Botkin said. “It’s quite the region.”


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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