Knowingly or not, it was a pursuit that started a little more than three years ago. In the same era, two record breakers were changing history, just a few streets away from each other.
Wichita Heights' Perry Ellis finished his career with 2,231 points, staking claim to the City League career scoring title.
It lasted about a year.
North's Conner Frankamp now holds the crown.
In reality, this record was in the books yesterday.
The decision is arguable, but there are plenty around the state that feel Frankamp was snubbed when he was not chosen for the McDonalds All-American game.
Fuel for the fire.
“That drove me a lot,” Frankamp said. “You have to use it as motivation to keep working hard, and try to outdo those guys next year at KU.”
Frankamp said he has talked to friends to stay humble in the days leading to the battle with Bishop Carroll. Chasing the record has brought out the bright lights of flash bulbs and TV cameras.
To tie Ellis, Frankamp needed 35 points. To pass him, 36.
The mark may have looked like it was safe for another day when Frankamp settled for 13 points in the first half. But in Frankamp fashion, his hands started to sizzle in the third quarter. He would not be stopped.
“There are a lot of teams that do it for a couple quarters. There are a lot of teams that have done it for three,” said Bishop Carroll coach Lonnie Lollar. “There hasn't been hardly anyone – if anyone – this year, because he was injured both games they lost. You tip your hat to Conner. He made some big shots.”
Three straight triples gave Frankamp 30 at the end of the third quarter. He started quietly in the fourth, but two free throws gave him 35, tying Ellis.
But with all eyes glued to him, Frankamp wanted to just be alone – at the top of the record books.
A little shimmy at the top of the paint gave the gunner just enough room to sink a jumper, giving him 37 points for the night, and 2,233 for his career.
“Getting it done tonight was outstanding for Conner. Now we can move on,” said North coach Gary Squires. “He wants to get by it. This means a lot to him, honestly. We didn't really discuss it much.”
North High was brimming with decorated players Friday night.
It is hard to say whether Lawrence Bunton or Johnny Wells could hang with Frankamp on the hardwood, but Frankamp respects their success. They have what he wants.
In 1954, Bunton and Wells were part of the squad that brought the first boys' basketball championship to North High. On Friday, they were jovial onlookers, soaking it in as someone else sketched themselves into the record books.
“I saw a little bit of history being made,” Bunton said. “It's exciting that the school that I went to now has the scoring leader.
“I enjoyed the whole game. To see someone excel like that, it's really a good feeling.”
Wells reminisced on the rich tradition held in the North High gym. Soon, it will move on, as a new gym is being constructed. But just enough time remained for one more player to be enveloped in the noise ringing from the crowds that hang above the court.
“It's great,” Wells said. “They've only got sophomores and juniors on this team, so they ought to have a good club next year – but they may not have a Conner Frankamp.”
The 1987 state title team was also in attendance.
“It's really sweet since we have them back here tonight,” Frankamp said. “It was a great crowd tonight. It was packed. Having those guys here was just an addition, for sure.”
The 1954 title team went 23-2. So did the '87 squad. Right now, North stands at 17-2.
Bunton said champions keep their heads on straight, never succumbing to the mental stresses. Does he think Frankamp's squad can do that?
“I sure do,” he said.
Lollar has kept track of Frankamp's career. He said Frankamp was “marvelous” even in the sixth grade.
For a moment Friday night, Lollar took a step back to reflect on the talent shooting through Wichita the past four years.
“I don't know the people that select the McDonalds All-American game, but it's kind of hard for me to think that they could pass up someone like him,” Lollar said. “Those guys don't come around but every 20, 30, maybe 40 years.
“As a fan, he's worth the price of admission. It's a steal. Six bucks – it's a steal. We all dream to be able to do the things he can do. He's worked.”
Bunton, of course, has seen many basketball games in his day. He gushes over the all-around game Frankamp displays.
“He does everything about as well as anybody can,” Bunton said.
But Frankamp carries the burden of immense pressure every game. He does not shy away from getting teammates involved, nor do they avoid letting him take over. The success of the team leans heavily on Frankamp.
“Every night he knows he has to get 35 or 40 for us to be in the ballgame or win the game,” Squires said.
Coaches have tossed everything but the kitchen sink at Frankamp to slow him down. Double teams, hand checks, physicality – Frankamp just adapts.
“He gets bumped a lot, and he keeps playing,” Lollar said. “You don't see Conner getting technicals. He keeps his composure. He finds ways. The great ones do.”
Beyond the numbers, North had a tougher task facing them – a Carroll team hungry to make themselves the focus.
In the first quarter, Carroll's Christian Smith dropped eight points, standing toe-to-toe with Frankamp (nine points) in the scorebook.
The Golden Eagles stretched their lead to five in the second quarter, and took a two-point edge into the locker room.
At halftime, Frankamp was crowned Homecoming king. When the buzzer sounded to start the second half, the North High court became his kingdom.
Frankamp scored 11 straight points, capped by a 3-pointer, to push the Redskins ahead 31-21. Gage Loy hit a bucket to bring Carroll within eight, but that just lit Frankamp's fuse more.
Frankamp drilled two 3-pointers in a row, breaking the game open 37-23.
“That was the game,” Lollar said. “I hope he can do that for the University of Kansas for four years.”
Frankamp hit the jumper to push him over Ellis on the scoring list late in the final minutes, then clinched his fists and let his emotion flow.
“He came right over. I put my arms up and gave him the biggest hug. I told him congratulations and I was proud of him, and I love you,” Squires said. “You get a little knot in your throat. He works hard.”
Darren Lewis added eight points off the bench for North (17-2). Smith finished with 14 for Carroll (9-9).
A whirlwind day ended with Frankamp tapping a pack of ice against his nose, which was swelling up from an inadvertent brush with a Carroll defender. Tired but elated, he was just hopeful there might not be practice in the morning.
“I don't think we do,” Frankamp said. “Hopefully not. Just relax.”