GOSHEN — Zack Foley is sitting on a desk in an office after practice, his teammates flanking him and two of his coaches in front of him. He came here to talk about himself, but he’s struggling to get the words out.
“I was always...” Foley starts, before stopping himself. “Well, I guess I shouldn’t say this, but…”
Then Foley says it anyway: how he’s always been one of the best on the teams he’s played on, from junior varsity to AAU to becoming the fifth 1,000-point scorer in Goshen High School history. He’s speaking with tempered confidence, a tone that acknowledges the enormity of his accolade but also recognizes that the season didn't end when his career point total hit four digits.
It was Tuesday night, and Monticello’s guards were applying pressure on Foley early in the game. Scott, Zack’s father, watched from his first-row midcourt seat — the one he takes at every one of Zack’s games, home and away — to witness two victories. The first came late in the fourth quarter. The opposing coach called a timeout to prevent Foley from making his free throws, but he made them anyway.
The game came to a stop. Foley paused for pictures, and after the 57-55 win, Scott embraced his son in the middle of the court. Foley's name will be etched on a banner that includes Chris Cook (1,191 points, 1978), Rudy Charles (1,188 points, 1978), Izett Buchanan (1,344 points, 1990) and Ian Schupp (1,042 points, 2014). For the 17-year-old Goshen senior, it’s a moment he’s been running through his head for a long time.
“It’s always been something since a young age, growing up watching Ian play, or going to high school games, I always wanted to be the 1,000-point scorer and it’s always been a dream, so that dream finally came true,” Foley said.
He’s not the tallest player at 5-foot-9, nor the heaviest at 170 pounds, but since elementary school Foley has aimed to outwork everyone. He played for the Newburgh Zion Lions, an AAU team coached by Harold Rayford, who said he knew Foley was going to be a special player not because he was the biggest or the fastest, but because he would show up to Saturday morning practice at 5:30.
“I think he gave me over 100 percent every time he was on the floor,” Rayford said.
Goshen head coach Mike Tangney recognized his point guard's work ethic when Foley was in fourth grade. Tangney would start getting ready for practice only to find Foley had already been in the gym perfecting his left-hand layups for an hour.
“If I let him in the gym an hour early, if I let him stay an hour late, he would do it every single time, and that attitude is contagious,” Tangney said.
As a freshman, Foley was playing for Hoop Group in Neptune, N.J., where he drew the attention of Pat Kennedy. A consultant for Hoop Group, Kennedy coached 40 years of NCAA Division I men’s basketball, winning coach of the year in 1992 with Florida State.
Kennedy sidled up to a man he didn’t know and said, “That little kid is really good.”
“That’s my son,” Scott replied.
Foley idolizes pro players Trae Young and Stephen Curry, and said that even though he’s being recruited by Division II schools, he believes he can play at the Division I level because the game’s evolution favors smaller guards like him.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s a Division I-level player,” Kennedy said.
Before college, Foley’s mind is focused on a section championship. Two years ago, Goshen’s first Section 9 title in school history was within grasp. With the score tied 83-83, Foley drove down the lane, initiated contact and threw up a floater. He didn’t get the foul call that would have given him the opportunity to bring a banner home.
Now, with the Gladiators sitting at 8-2, Foley sees one more chance to leave another mark on Goshen basketball history.
“I have something to prove,” Foley said. “We should have won it then. So we should win it again. It pushes me more, knowing how it felt to be on the bottom. I just want to get to the top and win that section championship.”