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Pooley just sixth to reach Fairmont boys hoops mark

CLIMBING THE CHARTS — Fairmont’s Levi Pooley (left) rises up and shoots a jumper over St. Peter defender Parker Maloney (32) during regular-season basketball action at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. Pooley recently became just the sixth player in Fairmont boys basketball history to surpass the 1,000-point career scoring mark. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — Fairmont Cardinals senior guard Levi Pooley dribbled the ball past halfcourt, took a couple more strides toward the left wing and let a leaning 3-pointer fly. He sank the shot and etched his name into Fairmont boys basketball history by becoming the sixth player to surpass the 1,000-point career threshold.

Pooley always has been a scorer, dating back to his freshman year when he nailed a game-winner from almost the exact same spot.

Cardinals’ head coach Jared Thompson couldn’t say enough positive things about the senior.

“He hit the three from the same spot when he was a freshman against Jackson (County Central) the first round of the playoffs,” Thompson said. “He accomplished a lot, sixth player to go over 1,000 points for Fairmont on the boys’ side, but what people need to understand is the amount of hard work he puts in.”

Pooley is the kind of player who isn’t afraid to aim high with his personal goals. Last fall he made it a point to reach 1,000 career points and has seen it come to fruition.

“Honestly it was just an accomplishment that I worked so hard for, that I’ve put effort in for the last four years and I guess it came as more of a relief that all that work paid off,” Pooley said.

The three-sport athlete also excels on the diamond and gridiron, but has always valued maintaining the ability to play all three sports at the prep level.

Pooley recognizes that despite his ingrained work ethic in athletics, his family has been a driving force in his life.

“I think it’s a little bit of both because I have always wanted to be the best that I can possibly be, but obviously I learned that from my family growing up that accomplishing things comes from working hard,” Pooley said.

After a rough 4-10 start to the season, the Cardinals found a solution and rattled off seven straight wins and have won 8 of 10 recently.

Pooley acknowledges how much of a team effort the turnaround has been. Whether it was his scoring one night or the more confident and sturdy play of his post players, he sees a path for the Cardinals to compete in the playoffs.

“We started the year off slow and we have had a lot of improvement since then. A lot of guys have been gaining confidence and it’s been a lot more fun recently,” Pooley said. “I know that confidence and momentum are going to help us down the stretch here, and it helps to feel good at the right time so I think we have a chance to shock some people.”

The Cardinals sport a veteran group, with a starting lineup of three seniors, a junior and a sophomore.

Pooley has played in big games throughout high school, whether on the hardwood or his other sports. That leadership will be crucial to the Cardinals’ playoff hopes.

With the improvement that has occurred with the Cardinals’ big men, it makes Pooley’s life easier.

“It makes our jobs a lot easier, just knowing that they are strong with the ball and they’ve been playing extremely well as of late, which helps out the whole team because we know we don’t have to rely on our outside shooting every night,” Pooley said.

Pooley is a team player, and now he has eclipsed 1,000 points, it almost feels as though a cloud has been lifted from over his head.

The goal is simple — win and advance.

As for the future, Pooley recently committed to play football for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Pooley will be playing receiver for the Blugolds, and is excited for that new chapter in his life.

UW-Eau Claire has a new coaching staff going into its second year and is working on new facilities. Pooley is excited for the opportunity to play college ball and won’t be upset if he redshirts as a freshman next year.

“I’m extremely excited for it, they have a lot of good things going on and it’s a great atmosphere out there, so I’m really excited,” Pooley said.

With the regular-season finale and playoffs on the way, Pooley hopes to add to his career total while also moving on in the postseason, game by game.

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