The magic point was neither dramatic nor spectacular, but it set off a chain of reactions.
When Tyler Goecker scored his eighth point of Saturday’s Trinity Lutheran basketball game against Jac-Cen-Del, the free throw catapulted him to a major milestone. It was the 1,000th point of the 5-foot-11 senior guard’s Cougar career.
Not the fanciest move Goecker has made on the court, but his knowing teammates gave him a rousing ovation, and their response and the moment grabbed hold of his emotions.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
“My teammates knew,” Goecker said. “They started to cheer.”
Goecker admitted he was moved by the outpouring, though he sought to keep his own feelings in check and concentrate on the game.
“I had to hold my emotions in,” he said.
Goecker comes from a long line of athletes, and Trinity Lutheran’s sports history has about as many Goeckers who have made a mark as Massachusetts has politicians named Kennedy. Some Goeckers were cousins. Some were siblings. Plus, Goecker’s cousin, Kayla, is simultaneously playing for the girls basketball team this season.
This is not the type of record that often sneaks up on a player. It is not a one-game outburst, but something that can be seen approaching from over the horizon as the career total is amassed.
“I knew there was a chance,” Goecker said of the possibility of hitting 1,000 the other day in what added a bright touch to an 84-66 defeat to Jac-Cen-Del. “I knew I was getting there.”
The landmark point propelling Goecker into the four-figure category occurred in a 10-point performance. But he has also hit for a career-high 31 points in a game this season.
Goecker has 1,002 points now, and the school record is 1,061.
For someone who just gained attention for scoring, Goecker was anxious to counter any impression that well, he cares too much about scoring big numbers.
“I’m here for the team to win,” Goecker said. “If the points come, they come.”
It has been a quirky season for Trinity so far. There were great aspirations because the three top scorers returned, but to date, Goecker is the only one of the threesome who has been healthy. Coach Ryan Crase has counted on him to do be the rock with the Cougars shorthanded. Their 1-7 start was unexpected but also a matter of circumstances.
“He brings everything to the team, from scoring to leadership to defense, Crase said.
Goecker is the point guard who dribbles the ball upcourt to start the offensive plays, and sometimes, those explosive scoring games just come along.
“He has been doing his best to carry the load,” Crase said. “He shoots from outside, and in transition, he finishes. He’s incredibly fun to coach.”
Goecker would wear his passion for basketball on his sleeve, except his Trinity jersey has no sleeves.
“His leadership is just incredible on and off the court,” Crase said.
If Goecker sees teammates goofing off, not paying attention to the coach’s instructions, he will take players aside and gather them for a personal pep talk. He’s the guide who ensures the other players know what the coach wants.
“He makes sure they know what we’re running out there on the court,” Crase said.
Goecker said he has felt a responsibility to lead for a couple of seasons, not only now because he is a senior.
“I do enjoy it,” he said. “I love my teammates.”
He gets his greatest satisfaction on the court not when he nails a long-range 3-pointer, but maybe when a teammate makes one or at least succeeds. His own mentors have been previous coaches in addition to Crase, and he said, “I want to thank God for everything. He has blessed me.”
Yet basketball isn’t really even his No. 1 sport. Goecker was put on on the spot and asked if hunting, fishing and experiencing the outdoors is really his favorite.
“Oh, it is,” he said.
Catching a 7-pound-plus bass in Persimmon Lake — his largest reel-in — has been a highlight, but it was a tough debate ranking the big catch over basketball’s pleasures.
“It’s hard to compare the feeling of catching a big bass and basketball,” Goecker said. “I love all the emotions in basketball. It trumps catching a big fish.”
Call him back after he has caught 1,000 bass that big.