Austin Smith keeps level head after 53 point performance
In this day and age of athletics, humility is a characteristic that is easily lost among some athletes.
But for Williston Trinity Christian School senior Austin Smith, it’s all about keeping a level head.
Smith scored a career-high of 53 points in a 75-62 win over Burke County on Jan. 20. The 53 points is among the most scored by a player this season, and it also broke the previous school record of 45 points by Jarek Hanson in 2008.
“If he scores 53 points, you can give him a high-five and he’s fine with it,” WTCS coach Jacob Braaten said. “And he could miss 53 shots and you can give him a high-five and he’s fine with that.”
Still, Smith’s performance came at a time when his team needed it the most.
The Crusaders were down 12 points at halftime to Burke County.
Smith scored 40 points over the final 16 minutes, which included eight 3-pointers, to help WTCS pick up the win.
“The performance was amazing,” Braaten said.
It didn’t take long for Smith to get warmed up in the second half. His first couple of baskets were layups, according to Braaten.
“As soon as he saw the ball go through the rim, there was no stopping him,” the WTCS coach said.
For Smith, the performance was unlike anything he has ever experienced. His previous career-high was 34 points, and his 53-point effort came when his team was struggling.
“It was pretty cool,” Smith said. “We were down at half, and we needed to get going.”
And in the midst of the game, Smith was just going with the flow.
“I really couldn’t tell you (what I was thinking),” he said.
Smith, who has been playing basketball for about 10 years, got his start in the sport by his uncle.
“He just started showing me and teaching me,” the WTCS senior said.
The offensive outburst is a highlight Smith likely won’t forget anytime soon. It also helps erase some bad memories throughout his years of playing.
“I’ve had quite a few bad moments,” he said.
Among those bad moments was a recent loss to Watford City.
“We didn’t play as a team,” Smith said of the loss. “We didn’t work well as a team.”
After high school, Smith is hoping to play basketball at Williston State College.
“If they were to offer him, he’d take them up on it,” Braaten said. “I think he wants to stay in town.”
Mark Jones covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MarkJones27_MDN.