Pioneers record-holder credits dad, coach, hard work for success

Figueroa is SHS boys’ hoops leader

By Eric Proulx and Matthew Higgins
Citizen Chronicle Writers

As a team, the Southbridge Pioneers are heading to their third district tournament in as many years. A large part of the credit, however, goes to the multi-faceted play of point guard Jared Figueroa.

The Southbridge High School senior has been on the Pioneers varsity boys’ basketball team throughout the four years of his high school career. He recently broke the career points record for Pioneer boys’ basketball team. In a recent game against Sizer Academy of Fitchburg, Figueroa scored 50 points, setting the school’s single-game scoring record.

Figueroa is a product of his surroundings and the hard work ethic instilled in him from a young age. He said his father was a successful basketball player at a preparatory high school. Figueroa says his father was “a great ball player, and I get it from the genes.”

Figueroa also credits his relationship with Victor Colon, Southbridge High’s head coach. Colon is finishing up his third full season as head coach of the Pioneers.  Before taking over for long-time coach Bob Fowler, Colon coached the junior varsity team, where he was able to work Figueroa, and many of the other players on the current roster.

“I’ve been coaching him since he was third grade, playing against fifth graders,” Colon said.  “I took him on JV as a seventh- and eighth-grader, so it’s been a while now.”

Colon has seen first-hand what Figueroa is capable of, and what makes him so special.

“He’s a work-horse, man, he’s just a special kid,” he said. “He broke a 30-year-old record. He’s our first 1,000-point scorer since Victor Martinez back in 2009, and it’s not every day you get to coach a talent like that.”

Figueroa says that he fell in love with the sport of basketball at a young age, in third grade, and attributes a lot of his success to hard work and practice. Asked what NBA player he models his game after, Figueroa quickly mentioned six-time NBA All Star point guard James Harden of the Houston Rockets.

“I have that same step back as he does,” Figueroa asserted.

With his high school career winding down, Figueroa is hoping to play college basketball locally next year at the Division II or Division III level. He’s been contacted by schools such as Anna Maria College in Paxton, Salem State University, and Worcester State University.

Moving up to the next level likely means more attention, something Figueroa said eludes many Southbridge High School student-athletes.

“The one downside to the Pioneer basketball program is we don’t get as much exposure as we should,” Figueroa said. “We have another 1,000-point scorer on the girls’ team that I doubt anyone has really heard about.”

That classmate, Julitza Delgado, joined the exclusive 1,000-point club this past week in a 67-34 win against the Uxbridge Spartans.

Figueora was also quick to add: “Other than [the lack of exposure] it’s a great program. We have a great coaching staff and we do work hard in practice.”

For Colon and Figueroa, it’s clear things are on the rise for the Southbridge Pioneer basketball program as the squad works to make a run in the district tournament and extending their season. The Pioneers finished up the regular season at 10-10 with a 72-69 loss to the Bartlett Indians in Webster.


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