The record-breaking shot came from downtown, but for the Brentwood boys basketball program, it was a coast-to-coast trip.
When Mike Almonacy nailed a three-pointer from the right wing with 5:44 left in the first quarter of Thursday’s 104-48 victory over visiting Floyd, it made him Brentwood’s all-time scoring leader with 1,381 points.
But this was no ordinary school record for the Stony Brook-bound senior guard, who has been on the varsity since the eighth grade. Almonacy surpassed Long Island icon Mitch Kupchak, who scored 1,380 points for the Indians from 1969-72.
Kupchak was monitoring Almonacy’s progress from Los Angeles, where he has been the Lakers’ general manager since 2000.
“It’s a great accomplishment for Mike. I’m surprised it took this long [for the record to be broken] with all the great players at Brentwood,” Kupchak told Newsday in a phone interview. “The fact that I’m getting mentioned when he breaks the record makes me feel good.”
Kupchak has stayed in touch with the program since graduating in 1972, and he posed for photos with Almonacy on Nov. 6 at the school’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
“It’s nice to hear your name when they break your record and know that the program is still good enough to produce great players,” Kupchak said.
The 6-9 Kupchak starred at North Carolina, was part of the gold medal-winning 1976 U.S. Olympic team and played nine seasons in the NBA, earning three championship rings, one with the Washington Bullets and two with the Lakers.
Almonacy needed six points to tie the record and broke it by scoring the Indians’ first seven — on two free throws, a driving layup and the three-pointer. The game was stopped and a capacity crowd gave him a standing ovation as he was mobbed by teammates and posed for photos at midcourt holding a commemorative basketball.
“To beat Mitch’s record that stood for 44 years means a lot. He’s a great guy who is very proud that he’s from Brentwood,” Almonacy said. “He’s a great role model. I would love to follow in his footsteps.”
Almonacy got a surprise phone call from Kupchak a couple of hours after the game. “First thing he asked me was what was the score and how I played. Then he said, ‘I heard you broke a record. Tell me about it,’ ” Almonacy said. “He said he’d been following me for a couple of weeks and congratulated me. He said to celebrate this and get back to work.”
That is advice the 6-foot guard is glad to follow, as he has his eye on another prize.
“It’s nice to have the record, but the ultimate goal is to win the state title,” he said. The Indians lost in the state tournament at Glens Falls the previous two seasons.
After Almonacy put on his early show, it was Showtime. Almonacy and the team’s other senior star, Jamel Allen, played only the first and third quarters. Allen scored 20 points, including five dunks. Three of those jams came on flashy feeds from Almonacy, who had 18 points and 10 assists.
“Michael is having fun out there, and he should,” Brentwood coach Anthony Jimenez said. “This has been a tremendous journey for him. He has always been consistent with his defense, shooting and leadership.”
For this game, Almonacy did not wear purple sneakers like the rest of his team. “I wanted to do something different,” he said.
Appropriately, his sneakers were gold.