Friday, September 18, 2020
Sept. 18, 2020

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Fort Vancouver’s Singleton reaches historic basketball heights

No one at the high school had touched the scoring record for 64 years

By , Columbian staff writer

Kahlil Singleton isn’t one to gloat, nor focus on personal basketball accomplishments.

He humbly talks about a recent scholarship offer from Eastern Washington University only when it’s brought up in conversation. That respectfulness stretches into the topic that’s driven new-found attention his way: scoring 55 points in one game for Fort Vancouver High School.

And when the sophomore shooting guard reflects on that performance Dec. 29 — 55 points in a non-league overtime loss to Corvallis (Ore.) to break the longest single-game record of any school in Clark County, he only wished he could’ve done more for a Trapper victory.

“That 55 points looks a lot better with a win,” Singleton said. “I don’t sit and dwell on it too long. I’m always looking to improve.”

The one number he’s focused on now is 21 because getting past the 20-game regular-season threshold means the Trappers are in the postseason.

Singleton is averaging a Southwest Washington-best 23.6 points per game through 10 games as the Trappers (4-6 overall) open 3A Greater St. Helens League play Tuesday at Mountain View (1-9). Tip off is 7 p.m.

The Trappers are coming off their biggest win to date — a 67-58 victory over previously unbeaten Capital on Jan. 3. Singleton scored 30 that game, but a game earlier is how all the record talk began.

Against Corvallis in the final game of the Fort Vancouver Holiday Tournament, Singleton had the hot hand. The 55 points came on 18 of 34 shooting (including a school-record 9 of 13 from 3-point range) and 10 of 11 on free throws. He scored all 29 of Fort’s first-half points and three in overtime as the Trappers lost 74-69. The 55 points bettered his previous best of 42 from earlier this season and shattered the long-standing single-game school record of 46 shared by Bill Chronis (1955) who tied Fred Ferrell’s 1911 school record.

Singleton doesn’t know much of the two players he passed, but is honored to be atop the list.

“It’s crazy,” he said.

• • •

According to school records, no player before Singleton scored 40 or more points in a game since Vancouver Public Schools changed the name of its inaugural high school to Fort Vancouver in 1956.

Clark County’s longest-standing scoring record for any school dates back to March 3, 1911 when Ferrell, as described by the Vancouver Daily Columbian as a “freaky fast and flashy forward,” tallied 46 in Vancouver’s 89-6 victory over Portland Academy.

According to Columbian archives, Ferrell netted 18 field goals and 10 free throws as part of a boys/girls doubleheader at Armory Hall. The point total was the highest of the season for the “Vancouver 5,” which held Portland Academy to without a field goal.

The season finale included a postgame potluck before all players walked back to the high school to rake the baseball infield and shovel debris off the dirt track. Spring sports began the following day.

Ferrell’s record stood untouched for 44 years until Bill Chronis — a 6-foot-4 senior center — scored 46 in a 72-51 win Feb. 18, 1955 over Evergreen. He scored all 19 first-quarter points and had 28 by halftime at McLoughlin Heights Gymnasium. His 46 points set a new Clark-Cowlitz League scoring record, and not to be outdone was John Gorman’s 24 for the Plainsmen that set an Evergreen school record.

Chronis set multiple Trapper team scoring marks, and his 19 free throws in a 1955 state tournament game against Lincoln of Seattle still remains a single-game tournament record. Vancouver fell one game shy of a state trophy, but Chronis made the all-tournament first team. He’s now in the Clark College Hall of Fame.

• • •

Just 15 years old and already a second-year starter, Singleton is more than a scorer for the Trappers. He’s a leader, too.

Ask his head coach, James Ensley. He’s watched Singleton go from a spot-up shooter as a ninth grader to a sophomore motivated to be a complete player.

Ensley, also the school’s athletic director, challenged Singleton this off-season to take on a bigger role as a scorer. His scoring is up almost 10 full points from his 13-points-per-game average last season.

The growth comes from a new-found poise and confidence by Singleton. So is true pride playing for Fort because that brings out the best in him, he said.

“I have an opportunity to change things with me and some of my younger teammates,” Singleton said. “That’s what I’m trying to do.

“People look at our record and count us out, but our team is stronger and better than what our record shows.”

Singleton’s focus is far from individual records — even the ones he set Dec. 29 — but Ensley is confident of what’s coming.

“There won’t be a scoring record he doesn’t break,” the coach said.