St. Joseph freshman Tounde Yessoufou had quite a debut Tuesday night.

Playing in his first game for the reigning CIF Central Section Open Division champs, Yessoufou scored 20 points as the Knights cruised past Pioneer Valley.

But that's just half the story, or about three-fourths of it. That's because Yessoufou and the Knights didn't quite finish three quarters of their game against Pioneer Valley.

Yessoufou's 20th point of the night ended the game with 6:06 left in the third quarter as his two-handed slam dunk was so powerful that it snapped the glass backboard off of its metal frame. 

The large backboard was left hanging by a thread, as one last bolt or weld held on just enough to prevent the glass from falling to the court. Luckily nobody was injured when the glass backboard shifted towards the floor, narrowly missing Yessoufou and teammate Dre Roman, who was in the area. 

With no way of fixing the hoop in a timely manner, the game was called with St. Joseph leading 44-20 in its season opener.

Had Yessoufou ever been a part of a similar sequence of events before?

"Never in my life," he said.   

The 6-foot-5 native of Benin was a force in the paint against the Panthers, grabbing offensive rebounds and feasting on the undersized opponent at the rim. Yessoufou scored 14 points in the first half and six points in fewer than two minutes in the third quarter, ending the game with his two-handed dunk.

On the final play, Yessoufou caught an offensive rebound past the three-point line, near his own bench, and turned to find a wide-open lane to the hoop. He took one dribble, picked up the ball with both hands and went up. Pioneer Valley's Nate Magni tried to swipe the ball from behind, but Yessoufou got the ball above the rim and hammered it home, sending shockwaves through the hoop's support and the backboard crashing down. The glass rectangle missed Yessoufou who was by then out of bounds and narrowly missed contacting Roman, who was tracking down the ball near the baseline right in front of the St. Joseph student section. 

The crowd went crazy and the St. Joseph staff was quick to clear the floor and the officials called the game shortly after. 

"When I got the rebound, it was just open," Yessoufou said. "Then (Magni) tried to block me and I thought, 'If he blocks me, I could go down.' So I just dunked and grabbed the basket and I broke it. I was so surprised and a little bit scared."

So who is this talented freshman? He's from Benin, a country in West Africa. He said he's been in the area for the last half-year or so. 

"I like it here very much," Yessoufou said. "I like the food and every place is beautiful to me because it's new. I love the temperature and everything."

When asked what his favorite food is so far during his time in the US, Yessoufou didn't hesitate to answer.

"Burgers," he said. "Orcutt Burger. I eat that three times a day."

Yessoufou added that he hopes to play basketball in college and his favorite NBA player is two-time league MVP and the reigning NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

"Playing in college is my dream and, if it's possible, to play in the NBA," he said. 

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Basketball is not a hugely popular sport in Benin, though Yessoufou has been playing since he was 5. 

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Girls basketball

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