Hilltoppers Impressive In Season Opener
December 29, 2021 by Matt Jaworski

Sulka Scores 1,000th Career Point

It was a memorable night in Chardon as not only did the Toppers open the season by routing West Geauga 86-51, but senior Nathanael Sulka topped the 1,000-point mark.

Game photos click here.

It was a memorable night in Chardon as not only did the Toppers open the season by routing West Geauga 86-51, but senior Nathanael Sulka topped the 1,000-point mark.

Due to the football team’s Division III state championship run, the start of the Hilltoppers basketball season was pushed back.

The football players had only six practices before game time, but the Toppers (1-0) looked like the more polished team.

Chardon jumped out to an early 15-3 lead on the Wolverines (1-6) and, by the end of the first quarter, were up 23-7.

“It was like playing with house money,” said Hilltopper head coach Chad Murawski. “You can gamble a little bit more and shoot when it’s probably not the best shot. Getting off to a big lead is huge for us, and with our up-tempo style, this is what we expect.”

Starters Trey Liebhardt and Alex Henry were out with injuries, so Murawski knew he would need his bench to step up. He just wasn’t sure what he would get.

“I didn’t know what to expect other than Nathanael Sulka being Nathanael Sulka,” he said. “We got in foul trouble early, kept subbing guys in, and they didn’t miss a beat. When you can go one to 11, it can be pretty scary, especially because we’re not in basketball shape.”

Not only did the Toppers go 11 deep, but all players scored and pulled down at least one rebound.

The biggest shot of the night, by far, came courtesy of Sulka, who scored his 1,000th career point in the third quarter.

Entering the game, he needed 15 points to break the mark and was determined to do it in front of his home crowd.

“It was awesome,” Sulka said of reaching his 1,000th. “It was a relief. I kept trying and missing, but once I made it, it was amazing.

“It means a lot. It means I scored more than Ben (his brother), but I’m still chasing Brady Toth and Alexander (his brother).”

Sulka finished the night with 16 points, five rebounds and one steal.

For him, it was good to be back on the hardwood after helping the football team win the state championship.

Fellow football teammate Nathan Tager was the game’s leading scorer with 22 points and nine boards.

“I felt great today,” Tager said. “It was such a good feeling to be back on the court with my teammates.”

“He played really well,” said Sulka of Tager. “He hit his shots and got to the rim well.”

Besides Tager and Sulka, Noah Gerlica scored 12 points in limited playing time. In total, six different Toppers scored at least six points a piece.

“On any night, I think anybody on our team can score six to 12 points based on our style of offense and ability to shoot the ball,” Murawski said. “It makes it harder for us because we have more guys who should be playing. We have JV guys who should be playing varsity, but there are more experienced guys ahead of them.”

The Hilltoppers also out-rebounded West Geauga 53-16, with Zach Kalis hauling in 10 rebounds and Ethan Faber and Tager adding nine each.

The Wolverines were paced by Angelo DeScicio, who scored 10 points.

For West Geauga, it was a rough game; the team struggled from the start.

Acting Head Coach Bill Fisher was coaching in place of his father, Jim, who is recovering from a recent heart procedure.

“When you get down big, you get in scramble mode,” Bill Fisher said. “The guys fought, but we really got hit on the boards hard. The game plan was boards and fast breaks, and we didn’t execute on either of those. We just need to have a good practice tomorrow and get right back to it.”