Basketball

High school boys basketball: Johnsburg says goodbye to 'one of the best of all time'

Senior finishes career as area’s No. 1 boys scorer

MARENGO – Zach Toussaint stood beyond the volleyball line, feet atop the nose of the Marengo Indians’ mascot at center court. He held his hand high.

He wanted the ball.

Johnsburg’s Jonny Preston dished to Josh Notriano, who fired a pass to Toussaint. Seemingly before the ball touched Toussaint’s hands, it was airborne again. The thing about a good shooter is he doesn’t need much time to fire a shot. And the thing about Toussaint is he doesn’t have much affinity for boundaries – be it the 3-point arc or the volleyball line.

Toussaint’s volleyball-line shot nicked the iron and went through the rim for three. It wasn’t technically the last 3-pointer of his career, he hit another seconds later, but it was a symbolic way to go out for a shooter who was never afraid to let it fly.

“Coach doesn’t really say what’s a bad shot, so we’re not worried about the shots we’re taking,” Toussaint said. “Running up and down, chucking 3s, fast breaks, it’s a lot of fun.”

Toussaint finishes as the McHenry County area’s all-time leading boys scorer with 2,249 career points. Burlington Central defeated Johnsburg, 77-67, in the Class 3A Marengo Sectional semifinals Tuesday.

Toussaint scored 33 points, including 6-of-10 shooting from 3-point range.

“He doesn’t care about accolades,” said coach Mike Toussaint, Zach’s uncle. “He doesn’t care about any of that. He just wants to win.”

According to records at IHSA.org, Zach Toussaint’s 2,249 career points will put him 59th in IHSA history, and he played sparingly as a freshman. He credited his father, Eric Toussaint, with teaching him how to shoot.

When Zach was little, the family had a backyard hoop and pavement installed. As he grew up, Eric was always willing to take Zach to the gym.

“We go in there every single Sunday night, 9 o’clock,” Zach Toussaint said. “Sometimes after games we would go in there and shoot. Every single time I’ve ever asked him, my entire life, any weeknight, any time in the summer, ‘Dad, can we go shoot?’ Automatic, ‘Yes.’ I don’t think he’s ever said no.”

Zach had one caveat for his father: no rebounding.

“I don’t like when he rebounds,” Zach Toussaint said. “When he rebounds for me, he talks, and I don’t like that.”

Toussaint is a perfect example of the trends at the highest levels of basketball trickling down to high school gyms. Eight of the top 10 individual single-season 3-point shooting performances in NBA history have happened in the past six seasons.

In 2017-18, 37 percent of all Division I college basketball shot attempts were 3s, up about 5 percent from 10 years earlier. Johnsburg this season shot 3s on
37.6 percent of its shot attempts.

“It’s definitely really fun,” said Johnsburg’s Preston, who scored
28 points on 6-of-8 shooting from 3-point range Tuesday. “Coach really allows us to play the game more relaxed.”

The one thing Preston admires most about Zach Toussaint?

“His confidence,” Preston said.

“He’s a freaking great player,” Mike Toussaint said. “I know he’s my nephew, and I’m going to see him a lot, but I got to watch one of the best players in the state play every night for three years. One of the best of all time.”

Zach Toussaint’s skill set should translate well to Division II West Texas A&M, where he will play next year. The Buffaloes are ranked No. 4 in the country in D-II.

“They need some shooters down there,” Zach Toussaint said. “I can do that.”

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