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Portledge School's Zaire Baines nets 2,000th point

Zaire Baines #23 of Portledge, right, gets pressured

Zaire Baines #23 of Portledge, right, gets pressured on defense by Xavier Lewis #2 of Half Hollow Hills East during the third quarter of a non-league boys basketball game at Chaminade High School in Mineola on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019.  Credit: James Escher

Zaire Baines became the youngest player in Long Island boys basketball history to reach 2,000 varsity points.

The 15-year-old sophomore at the Portledge School in Locust Valley scored 27 points in an 86-53 victory over hosting Avenues: The World School Wednesday. He entered the contest with 1,998 varsity points and now has 2,025 points, becoming just the 15th boys basketball player in Long Island history to score 2,000 varsity points.

“As a coach and a fan of the game, I think it’s incredible, unheard of,” said coach Nick Tsikitas as Baines was approaching 2,000 points. “Thinking of what he thinks, he couldn't care less. He truly couldn't care less.”

Tsikitas said Baines wasn’t even aware he was approaching 2,000 points until the coaches told him.

But Baines, who has played on the varsity team since eighth grade, has put himself well on pace to become Long Island’s leading scorer. Ryan Creighton, who played for Greenport from 2004-2009, is Long Island’s leading boys scorer at 2,799 points, according to Newsday records.

Baines could even be on track to become the state’s all-time leading scorer, which is currently held by Joseph Girard III, of Glens Falls High School, with 4,763 points, according to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s online record book. Girard is currently a freshman playing for Syracuse.

Even with potential records on the horizon, Tsikitas said Baines doesn’t have his eyes set on a state scoring record. Portledge has challenged itself with a difficult non-league schedule this year, and Baines both expects and hopes Tsikitas will continue to do that the next two seasons.

“I remember telling [Baines] that he had a chance and he said, ‘I don’t have a chance to break that record. I have no chance because I expect you to give us a harder schedule to play against the best teams because that’s where I’m going to get better because those numbers are meaningless,’ Tsikitas said. “So every time I try to pick him up, he doesn’t worry about it. He cares about the scoreboard, not the scorebook.”

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