On Friday, February 14, 2020, on the hardwood at Newmarket High School, Max Byron followed his lowest-scoring half of the season with his second-highest-scoring quarter to hit the 1000-point scoring mark for his four-year varsity basketball career.
Derryfield’s senior co-captain and leading scorer at 19 points per game had been shut out for the first half by the relentless Mule defense that featured double-teaming whenever Max was able to get the ball. But he was not worried in the locker room, explaining later that “I knew I’d get a bucket.” Early in the third quarter his confidence was affirmed. He got open, netted a 3-pointer and quickly followed it by converting a driving layup and the accompanying foul shot to get him to 997.
Minutes later, open again outside the arc and at the top of the key, he hit his milestone. “I shot it and thought, ‘Yup, that’s it. I got it’,” he explained the following Monday before practice. He then added a third 3 to give him 12 points for the quarter and 1003 for his career.
It all started almost a decade ago at his family’s Andover, MA, home and on the court of the local YMCA. “I was just an active kid who loved to run around,” recalled Max. His father Rich had put a hoop up in the driveway, and signed Max up as a third grader in a kids’ league at the Y. Attending the Fenn School in Concord, MA, Max tried out and made the Grade 4-9 school’s varsity as a seventh-grader.
At about the same time, his AAU career began with the Redding Rivals. “I could not dribble in Middle School,” admits Max. But his AAU experience took care of that problem with four years of intense dribbling drills at every practice. Although he did not see much game time as a seventh-grader at Fenn, he broke into the starting lineup as an eighth-grader. Against St. John’s Prep, he scored 25. “Dad likes to call it my ‘breakout’ game,” he noted.
He was all set to finish up at Fenn as a ninth-grader, but then “Mom (Laurie) got the job here (as an English teacher),” and that, as Robert Frost once wrote “has made all the difference.” Max did not feel at all uprooted about heading to Derryfield. He simply felt, “I was ready for high school.”
And the Cougars were ready for Max. He was the only freshman in the class of 2020 to make the varsity. He vividly remembers his first basket. It was in his first game - “a 3-pointer from the left corner at the far end of the gym,” he recalled. With two regular season games remaining in his Cougar career, he has made at least one 3-pointer in every game he has played. That is probably a record even less frequently achieved than the 1000-point mark.
As for his basketball future, Max explains that “it depends on where I go.” He is considering Division III schools St. Lawrence, Hobart, and Bates, and D I schools Lehigh, Bucknell, Lafayette, and Colgate. So next winter he may be wearing a D III uniform, or simply having fun playing intramural hoops at a D I school. Either way, he has certainly left his mark at Derryfield.