Westbrook’s Naccarato Hits 1,000-Point Milestone
Brandon Naccarato is generally not concerned with individual accolades. The Westbrook boys’ hoops senior will tell you he’s more interested in winning games and making his high school and community proud.
That said, there are slight exceptions, one being his pursuit of 1,000 career points.
Naccarato hit that milestone this season during a Jan. 27 game at East Hampton, scoring on a lay up off an inbounds play. Officials subsequently stopped the game to recognize Naccarato’s achievement, which made the moment feel all the more gratifying.
“Everyone, even the fans on the other team, were clapping,” Naccarato said. “It was definitely nice to get the respect for that, even at an away game. You definitely don’t always expect that to happen.”
Reaching this feat had been a goal of Naccarato’s ever since he saw his older brother Jack, 19, score his 1,000th point a few years ago. Jack, a 2021 graduate, finished his career with 1,102 points, putting himself among select company.
“I always tell him that I’ll pass him,” Naccarato joked. “If I pass him, that’s something I’ll always have on him.”
Naccarato, a three-year starter, has always been a dynamic scorer for the Knights. Never, however, has he been needed more than now. Naccarato is a veteran on a team laden with youth. Because of that, opposing defenders flock to him every game.
Nevertheless, Naccarato’s found ways to be impactful. He exploded for 42 points in the season opener at Coginchaug, albeit in a 74-62 loss, and continued his scoring surge with 36 points against Haddam-Killingworth and 31 against Morgan. He finished the East Hampton game with 23 points.
Keep in mind, as Westbrook’s undisputed No. 1 scorer, Naccarato has faced virtually every defense imaginable — double teams, box-and-ones, zone, you name it. Rarely, though, has it slowed down the 6-foot guard.
Just ask Westbrook coach Jeff Beeman.
“He is a solid perimeter shooter,” Beeman said, “and he probably — this is Year 39 for me — can get to the basket as well as any player I’ve ever coached. … We ask him to do a lot for little Westbrook boys’ basketball. His biggest attribute is his scoring ability.”
Westbrook has struggled this season, despite Naccarato’s brilliance. The Knights got off to a 1-14 start, with their only win coming Dec. 28 over Wright Tech, 42-39. They entered a Jan. 3 game at Old Saybrook near the bottom of the Division V standings, with their state playoff hopes long gone. The regular season will conclude on Feb. 15 (after press time) against Hale Ray.
The struggles the Knights as a whole have faced this campaign have been tough for Naccarato to accept.
“At the end of the day, all I want to do is win the game, even if it means I’m not scoring,” Naccarato said. “If they need me to score, I’ll score. If they just need me to pass and rebound, I’d be more than willing to do that.”
The Knights were 8-13 last year, losing in the first round of the Division V Tournament to Capital Prep, 91-47. The season before that was wrecked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Last year, we underperformed,” said Naccarato, who averaged around 20 points per game as a junior. “We had four seniors that started, and one or two would come off the bench. Having a whole new team this year, and having such a rough year, is frustrating. We’re just trying to make the best of the last (few) games.”
Naccarato has had to carry a lot of responsibility. So much, in fact, that Beeman has lightened the load on Naccarato in practice to help keep him fresh for game days.
“We need him to preserve his legs a little bit,” Beeman said. “The kid has worked his tail off to become a huge scorer for us.”
That’s exactly why Beeman took satisfaction in watching Naccarato surpass the illustrious 1,000-point threshold.
“We’re struggling as a team, per se, but it’s something we were hoping to achieve for him,” Beeman said. “His brother is already up on the wall, as we call it. They’ll both be up there forever. We just have to figure out who’s going to be the highest point-scorer.”
The team held a ceremony prior to their game against Coginchaug on Jan. 31 to celebrate Naccarato’s accomplishment, presenting him with a commemorative basketball alongside family and friends. More honors are to come, as his name will go up on a banner alongside his brother in the school gymnasium.
For Naccarato, it’s all still a bit surreal.
“It shows how much hard work it actually takes to get 1,000 points,” he said. “People can recognize you as someone who put in the work. It’s definitely not something that’s easy to do.”
Asked about his plans for basketball post-high school, Naccarato said he’s still weighing his options. He’s been in contact with a few Division III colleges to this point. Another possibility is continuing with track, as Naccarato was part of the Shoreline Championship-winning 4x100 relay team at Westbrook last year. He’s also competed in the long jump and 100 meter dash.
Fortunately, there’s still time for Naccarato to decide his next steps.
“I used to play AAU (basketball), but last year I started doing track for the whole spring,” he said. “I went fully into track. I still play (basketball) in the fall, summer, spring and, obviously, winter.”