Standing 5 feet, 7 inches tall, Isaiah Campbell has gotten used to being outsized but unfortunately for Spark’s opponents, he has also gotten used to putting the ball in bucket.
This year’s youth-laden squad (just three seniors) is scoring 42 points per game. Campbell is averaging a team-high 14.9 of those a contest.
“He brings a lot of experience back from the past season,” Schreiber said. “It really helps out becoming an extension of the coach in regards to what is expected on the floor… It’s important to have a player like that in any program.”
In the Railroaders’ second game of the year, at Hug – the defending Div. I North champion – Sparks trailed 38-16 at the half and by as much as 24 early in the third quarter. After scoring only two points in the first half, Campbell went off in the second half, scoring 21 points.
Single-handedly, he closed the gap to nine before the bigger, faster, stronger and more talented Hawks pulled away late in the fourth quarter.
For one half, Campbell was the best player on the floor, playing on the road, against one of the best Div. I programs in the state.
“That’s new for me because I haven’t scored more than 16 in a half before,” Campbell said. “It’s a great feeling. You just get in the zone and you can’t hear the crowd, all you can see is the basket and the defenders, getting them out of the way.”
Campbell scored 30 points his freshman year on junior varsity (personal best) and he wants to top that mark this season. With a playing style that allows the undersized senior to attack the rim or hit a deep three-ball if given the space, 31 is not out of the question.
Taking more than twice the shot attempts (104) than Sparks’ second-highest shot taker (Kevin Borja, 56), Campbell has scored at least 16 points in four of Sparks’ seven contests this winter.
“I am very aggressive (with an) attack mode kind of game,” Campbell said. “Being small definitely has its advantages because as soon as people come out onto the court, they see you as, their going to block you. I can just weave through the lanes… there are big open doors.”
While doors open for him as he maneuvers in the paint during games, wrappers open for him in the locker room before. Campbell had a “really good” game in seventh grade after eating a York Mint and five years later, the routine hasn’t changed.
While the York Mints have not resulted in a win for Campbell and the Railroaders, yet, this season, he remains optimistic there are plenty of wins ahead. And as the team’s leading scoring and on-court commander, he admitted there is pressure to perform on a nightly basis to pick up the wins that have eluded Sparks so far.
“Yeah there is a little bit (of pressure) because I really want to help the team and I know I have the ability to help,” Campbell said.
Campbell does not have plans cemented after his Sparks basketball career comes to a close in a few months but knows he wants to continue to play basketball – the game he’s been in love with since he could first hold the brown sphere. He recalled memories, after Tuesday afternoon's practice, of his dad holding him on his shoulders allowing him to dunk.
Certainly a special athlete, Campbell has since thrown down in a workout without the aid of pop's shoulders.
“He’s a great kid, he’s a gym rat. He’s always in the gym,” Schreiber said. “He’s one of the kids I have to kick out.
“I’ll miss him when it’s done.”