By Brad Fauber
STRASBURG -- Strasburg varsity boys basketball coach Matt Hiserman knew the program had a special player in Jonathan Kloosterman from the moment Kloosterman first took the court for a Rams team back in the 2009-10 season.
Kloosterman was playing for Strasburg's junior varsity team at the time -- the only eighth grader on the roster that season -- and Hiserman, who was the head JV coach that year, didn't wait long to put his youngest player on the floor in the season opener against Page County. It was then that Hiserman realized Kloosterman's potential.
"In his first-ever JV game, [Kloosterman] comes off the bench against Page and scores 13 or 14 points and had 10 or 11 rebounds as an eight grader," Hiserman recalled before practice on Tuesday afternoon. "I remember us looking at each other on the bench and going 'Whoa, something could be pretty special right here.'"
Pretty special, indeed.
Kloosterman joined the Rams' varsity program the next season (he was the only freshman on the roster) and the forward has been frustrating opposing teams ever since with his ability to convert shots under the basket and gobble up rebounds.
Last Friday night, Kloosterman, now a 6-foot, 3-inch senior, made his mark in Strasburg's record books, as he scored his 1,000th career point in a 63-57 double-overtime win at George Mason. He is the first Strasburg boys basketball player to accomplish the feat since Andrew Dellinger reached the milestone during the 1999-2000 season.
"It feels good. I've been blessed to be in such a good program with such great coaches and they've really helped progress my game," said Kloosterman, The Northern Virginia Daily's Male Athlete of the Week for Jan. 26-Feb. 1. "It feels great. It's awesome.
"It was one of my goals, so that was what I was working for."
Not only did Kloosterman achieve the milestone, but he had one of his best high school performances ever in doing so, and in a game that had powerful postseason implications for the Rams.
Strasburg entered last Friday needing a win to keep pace with the Mustangs, as both teams are vying for one of the top two spots in the Conference 35 tournament, a position that would also guarantee a spot in the 2A East regional tournament later this month.
Kloosterman responded by carrying the Rams with 31 points and 17 rebounds.
"We knew that it was a big game for us. We knew it was going to be a big game, and from the start I was just feeling it," Kloosterman said. "My teammates kept feeding me the ball, they would give me open looks. They were helping me get open just from driving and kicking and stuff. They were really helping out a lot."
Kloosterman, who entered the game 12 points shy of the 1,000-point mark, scored nine points in the first period against George Mason and hit the milestone on a layup midway through the second period. The senior made an astounding 13 of 16 shots from the floor, including his first 3-pointer of the season in the first period.
"I told him afterwards, it was the old Jonathan," Hiserman said. "We were waiting for him have that breakout game where everything went right for him from the beginning. He's had so many games where balls have went in and out early on and it just becomes a confidence issue.
"You could tell he was playing without any pressure on him. Some buckets went down early and that takes a lot of pressure off him. He got in a little bit of foul trouble or else he probably would've had more than 31 [points] and 17 [rebounds]. It was the best game I've ever seen him play."
Kloosterman's status as one of Strasburg's top scoring threats throughout his four years has never been in doubt, but whether or not he would indeed reach the 1,000-point milestone this season was uncertain.
Kloosterman, a standout football player who has a future in the sport at the college level, fractured his fibula near his ankle midway through Strasburg's football season this past fall, which caused him to miss the first few weeks of basketball season. He spent much of the season getting eased back into playing shape and didn't start a basketball game this year until midseason.
"We were a little worried with the injury in football where he would be and how he would come back," Hiserman said. "But I think the measuring stick of getting that 1,000 in basketball will also give him the confidence knowing that his ankle is a lot better and those kinds of things going down the stretch."
Strasburg has two games left in the regular season, as the Rams host rival Central today before traveling to Clarke County on Friday. George Mason's loss to William Monroe on Monday has dropped the Mustangs into a tie with Strasburg at 9-5 in the district, and the Rams will likely claim a top-two seed in the Conference 35 if they win out.
"However far we go in the conference tournament and if we're lucky enough to get into the regional tournament ... [Kloosterman is] obviously the big horse," Hiserman said. "People will look to focus on him but we also have some guys around him, and he knows that and has confidence in the guys around him to help pull us through."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD