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Sharon’s Fritzson Swishes into 1,000-Point Club

An emotional James Fritzson (4) is surrounded by his teammates after reaching 1,000 points for his career on Feb. 11. Credit Linda Kushner
An emotional James Fritzson (4) is surrounded by his teammates after reaching 1,000 points for his career on Feb. 11. Credit Linda Kushner

Brian Mukasa and James Fritzson have been the two names most synonymous with Sharon High boys basketball over the past few years. Mukasa topped 1,000 career points this season, and earlier this month, Fritzson furthered his legacy in the annals of Sharon basketball history by scoring his 1,000th point as an Eagle.

“I worked really hard over the summer, and I had a feeling that I was going to get it,” Fritzson. “It just feels great that I’ll be with all the other 1,000-point scorers up there on the banner. It was just a great accomplishment for me - something that I can lean on and I say that I did, when my whole high school career is over.”

Fritzson, a senior captain on this year’s Sharon squad, had poured in 29 points with seconds remaining during Sharon’s Senior Night game vs. Oliver Ames. Although the outcome of the game was decided, Fritzson stepped to the free-throw line in front of fans as interested as at the launching of a buzzer-beater.

The shooting guard calmly sank three free throws, the masses erupting as the final shot sank into the netting as Fritzson equaled 1,000 points. Play was halted, as Fritzson was embraced by his parents, Gary and Phan Fritzson; greeted by his teammates and coaches; and showered with adulation from the bleachers.

“It felt like a close game because of the pressure of the free throws,” Fritzson said. I’m always calm at the free throw line, and I just sank them – just like any other free throws. After I hit the first two, it just gave me more confidence to hit the third one.”

Sharon senior captain Erik Kushner, who has played with Fritzson on the varsity for the past two seasons, says that Fritzson has developed many weapons in his offensive arsenal. “Jimmy is simply a dynamic scorer. He can do it all - run the break, go to the rim, and sink jumpers from anywhere past half court,” Kushner said.

Head Coach Bruce Jackman says that he was “ecstatic” for Fritzson reaching the lofty plateau because of the strides he’s made over his high school career. “He’s worked very diligently, and his offensive skills have gotten much better.”

“The time he’s spent with shooting and [furthering] his offensive skills, taking the ball to the basket, has made him so much more effective. He’s the best outside shooter in the league that we’ve had in a long, long time,” Jackman said.

Fritzson earned a reputation in prior years as a three-point shooting threat, including draining a walkoff trey to defeat Oliver Ames at home last season and scoring 34 points in the state semifinal loss to Scituate.

Fritzson says that adding the element of driving to the hoop with regularity to his skillset has enhanced his game, opening up the floor more for himself and his teammates. “I think my ability to get to the basket as well a as shoot the three has been really effective for me this season,” he said.

An intangible area that Fritzson says he has honed is deciding when in games to be aggressive in creating his own offense versus facilitating to involve teammates. “I have great teammates this year, and I can trust all of them. Knowing when to pick my spots and the times to score – that’s something that I think I’ve really improved upon over my career,” he said.

Jackman also noted how Fritzson has improved his strength and stamina over the years. “With people doubling on him and everything else, he doesn’t wear down; as the game gets longer, he gets stronger.”

Unlike Mukasa, who says that he told his mother well before beginning high school that he was going to score 1,000, Fritzson says that he hardly thought about that number before Jackman told him this past summer of the realistic possibility of him scoring at the pace this season requisite to reach it.

The shooting guard said that piece of information “added a little fuel to the fire”, but that a statistical benchmark has been far from his primary impetus to improve himself as a player.

“I just really want to be successful in what I do, when I play basketball. That’s really the main motivation. I want to be the best basketball player I can be and the best person I can be, and basketball definitely does that for me,” Fritzson said.

Fritzson says that his fellow players and the Sharon coaching staff have been instrumental in his growth. “My teammates have been so great this year. They’ve helped me get there [towards 1,000] throughout the whole year, and I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for Coach Jackman always being there for me. I just love my teammates and my coaches,” Fritzson said.

Fritzson and Mukasa were the first two Sharon players to reach the 1,000-point mark since 2002, and comprise the first duo from the same graduating class in that elite club in Sharon basketball history.

“It’s a great accomplishment for our school, our class, and us as a duo. For us both of to be able to reach an accomplishment like that is just fantastic,” Fritzson said.

Fritzson has decided to pursue a post-graduate year, during which he will play basketball. He will be conducting Skype interviews with of each four prep schools to which he applied, expecting to hear decisions by mid-March. “Whatever feels right is what I’ll decide. We’ll just have to wait and see,” he said.

As for the Eagles as a squad, Sharon clinched the Davenport Division championship earlier this month, the squad’s first Hockomock League title since 2000. The Eagles finished the regular season, which concluded on Wednesday, with a 15-7 record.

Jackman expects Sharon to be the #11 or #12 seed when the Division II South tournament bracket is announced. Kushner says that improved team defense and rebounding will be necessary for Sharon to succeed in the postseason, which begins next week.

Last season, Sharon scored over 78 points in each of its three playoff games, and Fritzson says that offensive productivity will be a crucial element in Sharon’s mix this postseason.

“Honestly, I think that offense wins championships,” Fritzson said. “If you can’t score, then you can’t win. We need to keep on sharing the ball like we did [vs. Milford on Feb. 14], trust one other, and just put points on the board.”

Jackman is optimistic regarding Sharon’s overall progress. “We’re hopeful. We’re positive. We’re working in the right direction. Everybody is upbeat, working hard day-to-day,” Jackman said. “All the young kids are working hard, all the seniors are working hard, and we’re looking for the right results."

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