PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - At a small high school up in the North Hills, a very big record is about to be broken. Aquinas Academy's Vinnie Cugini is bearing down on the WPIAL's all-time scoring record in boys basketball, a record that has stood for 30 years.
There's one thing that's for certain: Cugini can score.
A four-year starter at Aquinas Academy, Cugini has racked up a total of 2,711 points, just 127 shy of the WPIAL all-time record set by Valley's Tom Pipkins in 1993.
"I've heard a lot about it recently," Cugini says. "A lot of people keep asking me when it's going to happen, if it's going to happen and I've kind of heard about it since the beginning of this year. But at the beginning of the year, I thought 'that's really far, that's a lot of points' so I didn't know if I would be able to do it."
After averaging over 45 points a game this year as a senior, it became clear that he actually can do it, but the scoring record hasn't been his main focus.
"That's really never been my goal," Cugini says. "My goal is to help this team get their first playoff win because we've never had a playoff win."
"When we first came here five years ago and then Vinnie came the next year, this school had never won a section game – ever," says Aquinas Academy head coach George Yokitis. "And now with Vinnie, hopefully this year we'll make the playoffs again, we're in pretty good position at 13-1, and we made it the last two years – the playoffs!"
Cugini's scoring totals have certainly been aided by the number of shots he's taken. He's averaged around 30 shots per game in high school but those totals are by design.
"Our goal is to shoot within seven seconds or so in order to get 80 shots per game so all the kids get to shoot the ball and Vinnie is just a great transitional player," Yokitis says.
"It's just how we play," says Cugini. "We all get a lot of shots and no one I can think of ever has complained about a lack of shots or someone shooting too many shots."
"He's shooting 53 percent from the field this year," Yokitis says. "He's shooting 80 percent from the foul line. He averages 11 rebounds, seven assists and five steals per game – I mean, he's doing everything. So I don't think he's taking too many shots. Goodness, if he did take too many he'd be averaging 60 points per game."
Regardless of how many shots he's taken, or who he's taken them against, breaking a record of that magnitude is something that deserves recognition and Cugini is looking forward to etching his name in those record books.
"It would be super cool just to see my name up there because I know a lot of those names like Micah Mason, I trained with him," Cugini says. "I know how good a lot of those players have been after high school so it would be super cool for my name to always be in that loop years down the road when some other kid is coming up and trying to break that record."
If he stays on his 45-points per game pace, Cugini could set that scoring mark next week. As for his plans to play beyond high school, he's already committed to play at the University of Pitt-Johnstown in the Division II level.
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