By Scott Barboza
LOWELL, Mass. — You couldn’t draw it up any better.
Teetering on the brink of history, Billerica attack Grant Whiteway entered Friday night’s game with Andover just shy of 500 for his career.
After an eight-point outburst in a win against St. John’s Prep on Wednesday, he stood at 499 and the only question on everybody’s mind was when and how it was going to come.
It was the foremost thought of Grant’s father, Grant II, who paced the sideline, as he always does, in his duty as an assistant coach of the Indians. The game was the final in a full day of Merrimack Valley Conference lacrosse in Lowell and the Indians played under the lights of Cawley Stadium. There was a sizable crowd, which included grade school-aged players from the town youth league, which Grant II created. Most of the children had “500” painted on their cheeks with green paint.
It nearly came several minutes in when Whiteway whizzed one of wide of Andover goaltender Crosby Nicholson. The set play had Whiteway, who typically fires off shots in excess of 90 miles per hour, with a clean look at the cage from 20 yards out, only to rip it wide right.
It finally came four and a half minutes in.
Of course, it was a goal.
“It was relief to get it over with,” Whiteway said after Billerica’s 12-2 win.
With the goal, Whiteway became the sixth high school player in the nation to have reached the 500-point plateau. He joins North Andover’s Jimmy Connolly and Duxbury’s Max Quinzani as the third player from Massachusetts to accomplish the feat.
They’re exclusive company with whom Whiteway is familiar.
“He was a ball boy for Jimmy Connolly and Max Quinzani,” the elder Whiteway said, alluding to the travel team he coached. “He always saw how hard those guys worked off the field.”
Whiteway’s milestone is as much a credit to his family’s roots in the game. Grant II played at UMass-Lowell before he started Billerica’s youth league. Grant III’s oldest sister, Jamie, went on to play at UMass-Amherst (where he will go on to play next year) before finishing her career at Merrimack. His middle sister, Brittany, plays at Southern New Hampshire. His youngest sister, Lindsay, is a sophomore at Billerica and a budding star of the girls’ lacrosse team.
It all traces back to the Whiteway’s front yard, where you can often find the siblings throwing the ball around with dad.
“We make sure we’re in the front yard, so the dogs don’t bite us,” Grant II said, adding the family’s English bulldog has a taste for lacrosse balls.
Friday night went about as well as could be scripted.
With the convincing win, the third-ranked Indians claimed another MVC Large division title. Whiteway finished the night with four goals and an assist to raise his career total to 504. Junior attacks Ben Melaugh and Cam Slatton each had four-point games. D.J. Smith was again strong in the cage and Billerica head coach Craig Flynn noted the performances of defenders Ian Abrahamson, Mike Curley and Tommy McLaughlin.
When Whiteway tallied No. 500, the game was stopped and Whiteway was presented a commemorative plaque by Flynn and his father. His teammates flanked him for a photo as the crowd cheered.
“He was born to play Billerica lacrosse,” Flynn said of Whiteway. “He’s the most prolific player in the state. What he did reaching that 500-point milestone, it’s not only great for him, but it’s great for the whole community of Billerica, too. It’s such a big thing.
“There are only three guys in the state who have reached 500 points and now he’s up on the pedestal with those guys.”
And the timing couldn’t have been better.
“I wanted to try to do it last game [against Prep], but it didn’t happen,” the junior Whiteway said. “It was good to do it tonight, we had more people to see it here.”