Poulakidas sets Neuqua scoring record
Neuqua Valley defeated Burlington Central 60-44 in a brunch time matinee on Rocket Hill Saturday. It was Central's first loss of the season.
And to make the 10:30 a.m. start time of the nonconference game more palatable for Neuqua, John Poulakidas set a new Wildcats career scoring record in the first quarter.
Burlington Central easily penetrated Neuqua's defenses but could not get its shots to drop. The Rockets connected on only 29% from the field.
"They just missed shots. Their offense shredded our defense," said Neuqua assistant coach Tyler Sutton, who was filling in for dad and head coach Todd Sutton. "If they hit some shots then it would have come down to the wire for sure."
"Neuqua by far was the best team we played this year. Quality kids, quality program, well coached and the most size we have seen this year," Burlington Central coach Brett Porto said. "I think size sometimes affects you more a little bit around the rim and the jump shot. It definitely threw us off early."
Neuqua (5-2) held Burlington Central (5-1) scoreless for the first four minutes of the game. Zac Schmidt (7 points) finally got the Rockets on the scoreboard at the 3:20 mark by sinking a free throw. Carson Seyller (8 points) sank the team's first basket with 1:27 left in the period.
The Wildcats led 17-7 after the first quarter and 33-15 at the half. Burlington Central senior Gavin Sarvis, after being held to 2 points in the first half, got back on track in the last 16 minutes to score a game-high 18 points.
Sutton felt that Friday's night lopsided 70-28 loss to Waubonsie Valley also inspired his team.
"We had a little bit of motivation from last night," Sutton said. "We lost by 42 to our rival so guys really put some concentration and effort in today's performance."
Neuqua Valley widened its lead to 51-25 after three quarters.
Porto said the team's offensive struggles impacted the defense.
"At times we were good at communication and help side defense. We forced some tough contested looks but at other times I think we let our offense bother us a little bit," Porto said. "Hopefully, that will correct itself."
Poulakidas started the game three short of the Neuqua scoring record of 1,290 points set 18 years ago. The Yale commit tied the record with his first basket of the game, a 3-pointer at the 3:49 mark. He broke the record less than a minute later with another trey. Poulakidas finished with a team-high 16 points.
The 6-foot-6 senior downplayed his accomplishment.
"The biggest thing for us today was to come out with a completely different mindset (from Friday)," Poulakidas said. The biggest thing today was ... executing the win instead of breaking the record."
Mark Mennecke scored 8 points for Neuqua while teammates Connor Davis, Zach Davis and Erikas Gurskas tallied 7 points each.