State’s top scorer has game, fame, new name

February 9, 2017 FieldsColumn

Lawrence County’s Tim Dalton (10), who leads the state in scoring with a 38.5 average, is at his best attacking the rim. (Photo submitted by Lawrence County)

BY MIKE FIELDS

When you’ve just put up a monster triple-double in a ridiculously high-scoring comeback victory, you have every right to request that people call you by any name you choose.

After Lawrence County basketball star Timmy Dalton poured in a school-record 60 points to go with 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a 106-103 victory at Greenup County Monday night, the 6-foot-3 senior asked the media if they would henceforth refer to him as Tim Dalton.

“’Timmy’ makes me seem like I’m young; ‘Tim’ sounds older,” he said lightheartedly in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Tim Dalton

You can also call Tim Dalton one of the most prolific scorers in Kentucky boys’ basketball in quite a while.

Dalton has 1,039 points in 27 games this season for a 38.5 average. No boys’ player in the state has scored that much since Chris Harrison of Tollesboro averaged 39.4 points for the 1990-91 season.

(Ervin Stepp holds the single-season state record with a 53.7 average in 1979-80. Whitney Creech of Jenkins set a girls’ state record by averaging 50.3 point last season.)

Dalton has been playing varsity for Lawrence County since he was an eighth-grader. He averaged 15 points as a freshman, 23 as a sophomore and 19 as a junior. He’s only 24 points shy of 3,000 for his career (and three rebounds shy of 1,000) going into tonight’s game at Boyd County.

While Lawrence County Coach Travis York is amazed by Dalton’s point production, he’s more impressed by his overall game, which has pushed a young Bulldogs’ team to an 18-9 record and a top seed in his district.

Lawrence County made its first-ever trip to the Sweet Sixteen last year, with Tim Dalton and his older brother Robert leading the way.

Timmy was the only returning starter this season, so York figured he would need to average around 30 points, at least until the inexperienced players found their stride.

“But Timmy basically has done everything for us all season,” York said.  “Anything he can do to help us win he’s doing, and that includes giving us the leadership we had to have with such a young team.”

Dalton has surprised even himself.

“I knew I could put up some big numbers in some games, but I didn’t think I’d be averaging what I am now,” he said. “But what’s crazy is that I’m averaging 11 rebounds and 6 assists. I’m really contributing on the boards and in the passing game, too.”

Dalton is a big-time scorer even though he doesn’t shoot many three-pointers. He’s made 14 of 55 shots from behind the arc this season. (By comparison, Chris Harrison hit 145 of 375 three-pointers his senior year.)

Dalton has a pretty reliable 15-foot jumper, but he prefers driving to the rim. “Why settle for jump shots when I can take it to the basket and try to score or kick it out?” he said.

He gets fouled a lot — he’s made 221 of 319 free throws (69%).

York said opponents have tried all kinds of gimmick defenses to stop Dalton, including a triangle-and-2, with 2 defenders doubling up on Dalton.

Tim Dalton is only 24 points shy of 3,000 for his career.

“But he’s still putting up these points in the paint, which is amazing. He’s weaving his way through there and scoring through a lot of contact.”

Dalton is a strong 190 pounds. His stamina showed back in December when Lawrence County played four games in six days, capped by a day-night double-header in the Kentucky Bank Challenge at Rowan County. Dalton had 39 points against Southwestern and 41 against Madison Southern. “That’s 80 points in one day — not bad,” York said.

It seems the bigger the challenge for Dalton, the better his performance.

“He’s the kind of kid who loves the pressure,” York said. “At Greenup County the other night, the crowd was on him from the moment he walked in the gym. He feeds off of it. He just smiles, takes it in stride and just plays. He’s a competitor.”

On the big stage of the Sweet Sixteen last year, Dalton had 16 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists and 2 blocks in Lawrence County’s first-round loss to Doss, the eventual state runner-up.

Dalton commited to Salem International University in West Virginia before the season. But with his star on the rise, he has new college suitors and will consider his options when the season’s over.

He’s not worried about that now, nor about maintaining his hefty scoring average.

“The big goal is to get back to Rupp and show the state we can compete again,” he said.

Spoken like a seasoned veteran. Like a Tim, not a Timmy.

*****************

High scorers of note since 1980:

  • Ervin Stepp, Phelps — 53.7 ppg (1980)
  • Chris Harrison, Tollesboro — 39.4 ppg (1991)
  • Tim Dalton, Lawrence Co. — 38.5 ppg (2017)
  • Tim Couch, Leslie Co. — 36.0 ppg (1995)
  • Mike Allen, Bryan Station — 33.8 ppg (1989)
  • Stepphon Pettigrew, E-town — 33.6 ppg (2007)
  • Manuel Forrest, Moore — 33.1 ppg (1981)
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