Never Forget 31-0
West prevails on Cook's career night
Lakota West 45, Sycamore 41
By Tom Groeschen
Enquirer staff writer
Vince Cook couldn't believe it either, when they told him he had just scored a career-high 24 points.
"I was just out there playing," said Cook, who led top-ranked Lakota West past unranked Sycamore 45-41 at West on Friday night. "I'm a scoring threat, but usually I'm more looking to get other people the ball."
Cook, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound senior forward, was averaging 7.4 points a game. His previous career high was 13 points earlier this season.
Cook made 11 of 12 shots, mostly inside. He also had a game-high seven rebounds.
"I felt like every time I had the ball, I would score," Cook said.
He wasn't bragging, and in fact had left the arena quickly afterward. A teammate had to call Cook's cell phone, urging him to get back into the gym to speak with reporters.
"It was just one of those nights," Cook said softly, smiling as friends congratulated him on the court.
"Vince Cook had the game of his life," West coach Mike Mueller said. "That's one of the best performances I've seen by a high school player in a long time."
Lakota West (10-1, 6-0 Greater Miami Conference) avoided an upset by the Aviators (6-3, 3-3). West has been ranked No. 1 all season in the Enquirer Division I coaches' poll, while Sycamore was 12th in this week's voting.
Cook picked up the slack as Josh Chichester, Lakota West's 6-8 center and usual scoring leader (14.4 ppg), had an off night. Chichester largely was kept out of the flow by Sycamore and was held to two points, making the only shot he took. Chichester did have six rebounds and led West in assists (three), blocked shots (two) and steals (two).
Cook was joined by West senior forward Matt Karaffa (10 points) as the game's only double-figure scorers.
West held Sycamore's potent scoring threats, 6-4 senior forward David Buchberger and 6-7 senior forward Robby Peters, to a combined 16 points. They had been averaging a combined 37 points.
Sycamore shot just 15-of-51 from the floor (29.4 percent), while West hit 18 of 35 for 51.4 percent.
West survived despite 20 turnovers; Sycamore committed only seven turnovers.
"In 35 years of coaching, I haven't won very often when my team makes 20 turnovers," Mueller said. "I want to credit part of that to Sycamore, because they took the game to us."
Sycamore coach Stan Kaniecki said the Aviators just didn't hit enough shots. Sycamore got plenty of open looks, especially outside, but could not hit consistently.
"If we shoot the ball a little better, it's a ballgame," Kaniecki said.
At that, Sycamore was right in it. West gradually pulled out to a 45-35 lead with 36.8 seconds left, but the Aviators chipped away at the foul line before time ran out. "When you can hold the No. 1 team in the city to 45 points ... that's the best effort we've had all year," Kaniecki said. "Cook really hurt us."
Sycamore (6-3, 3-3 GMC) - Battle 1 0 2, Clark 2 4 8, Peters 2 2 7, Mayer 3 1 9, Buchberger 4 0 9, Grissom 3 0 6. Totals: 15 8 41.
Lakota West (10-1, 6-0 GMC) - Casper 2 2 6, Chichester 1 0 2, Cook 11 2 24, Mayberry 1 0 3, Karaffa 3 4 10. Totals: 18 8 45.
3-pointers: S 3 (Peters, Mayer, Buchberger), LW 1 (Mayberry).