Principia’s Ball reaches 1,000-point milestone in boys basketball career
By: Warren Mayes
Less than a month ago, Principia junior Joe Colliatie passed the 1,000-point milestone for the Panthers.
In the next to last game of the season for Principia, Colliatie helped senior teammate Justin Ball reach that plateau.
In a Metro League game at Westminster Christian Academy, Colliatie passed the ball to Ball. The 6-foot-8, 230-pounder knew what to do and hit the layup.
“It couldn’t have been an easier two points,” Ball said.
Principia coach Duane Thomas said the whole play was a pretty one.
“The big basket was a backdoor pass from Joe Colliatie for a layup,” Thomas said.
His teammates were happy, too, for Ball.
“They were going wild and hugging and slapping me on the back,” Ball said. “It was a great feeling.”
Topping 1,000 points is a individual accomplishment but Ball pointed out he did not get there alone.
“It means that I have really great teammates and have had amazing coaches because I can’t reach a 1,000 points if I don’t get the ball,” Ball said.
Ball is the third boys basketball player in Principia history to achieve this feat and he ends his prep career with the third most points for the Panthers. However, it was not a goal for him.
“Not really. I didn’t think I was going to reach it till the middle of this year when my dad made me aware that I could get it,” Ball said. “I have always played for the team not for my personal achievement but it’s definitely a highlight of my career.”
Despite his size, Ball is agile on the court. He likes to shoot and can do it in many ways.
“I have great touch and can shoot the ball relatively well,” Ball said. “I can score with either my back to the basket or faced up. I am very comfortable using my left hand and use it often. I work on baby hook both ways it one of my favorite weapons.”
His father got him interested in basketball. Ball has been playing the sport for 14 years.
“My dad and I would play on an outside hoop that was attached to the garage,” Ball said. “I just love playing. I feel at home when I’m on the court.”
The Panthers lost to Lutheran South Peters in the first round of district play to end Ball’s season and career. He finished his senior season, averaging 15.7 points and 9.7 rebounds a game.
“It really stinks because high school basketball, for me, is finished,” Ball said. “It is a shock that it is over and it was very fast. But I can’t say enough about the coach and the program. I loved playing for Principia.
“I can only hope that I will have the opportunity to play at the next level.”
Thomas said Ball had a great career with Principia.
“He got doubled-teamed a lot,” Thomas said. “He has over 1,000 career points, over 600 career rebounds and over 200 career blocked shots. I think his rebounds and blocked shots totals are equally impressive.”
Ball did not play on the varsity as a freshman. When made the big squad, he was there to stay.
“Justin has played three years varsity and started all three years. Justin was one of the team captains,” Thomas said. “He is a quiet leader. Justin recently received his Eagle Scout award.
“All those things that the scouts strive for is Justin, like loyal, kind, humble, service oriented and many more qualities. I do not know another 6-8 Eagle Scout.”
Ball credited Thomas with helping him become a better player. All of the coaches he has had over the years have left their mark on him.
“Out of all the things that Mr. Thomas has taught the thing that will impact me as I play on at a higher level is to do the little things,” Ball said. “I also would like to thank Coach Peewee Lenard, Corey Fazier and Jay Blossom. They have all had a huge impact on my game and I wouldn’t be the player that I am today without them.”
He has not signed with a college yet. Ball said he will make a choice between Wabash, William Woods, and Principia College.
Thomas said his big man will continue to play.
“Justin will play college ball. We have had a steady diet of college coaches attending games,” Thomas said. “At this point, he has not made any decisions. I see him at the Division 2 level, NAIA or at Division III if the school fits his personality well.”
Thomas said he will miss Ball.
“Justin is extremely coachable and works hard to please,” Thomas said. “He will be missed a lot as his good nature and willingness to help others are a joy to be around.”