It probably should have come as a surprise.
After all, until he came along, the school record for points scored was 1,217.
Only three players had even reached 1,000.
But head coach Vern Capelle has learned not to be surprised by anything Christian Pekarek does on the basketball court.
The senior point guard elevated himself into rarefied air, Feb. 15, joining the 2,000-point club in style with a school-record 45-point outburst in a 128-74 drubbing at Lakeview Christian Academy.
“There haven’t been too many things that have surprised me about Christian as a person or a player,” Capelle said. “I have known him his entire life – his family and mine are very close – and I knew early on that Christian had a drive within him to succeed.
“The summer before his freshman year, he played exclusively with our varsity players in leagues and team camps and consistently made plays that were an indication of things to come. His passion and drive to compete and win is one of the most intense I have ever personally witnessed.”
Perhaps more impressive than the points, though, is how Pekarek has achieved it – shooting at a high percentage while consistently tallying high assist totals, shooting 19-of-24 against Lakeview with six assists.
“Christian is relentless when he is on the court,” Capelle said. “He continually looks for opportunities to attack the defense and create scoring opportunities, whether for himself or a teammate. He has excellent court awareness and anticipates movement extremely well.
“Over his career, he has become a more consistent perimeter shooter and a more consistent finisher at the rim,” he said. “He is able to finish in very little space and either score or get to the foul line. Regardless of how teams have tried to defend him, he seems to find ways to get his shots and he shoots at a very high percentage for a perimeter player.”
Senior Dylan Zimmerman also put up a dynamic display against the Lions, hitting 16-of-18 shots as he scored 36 points to go with 12 rebounds and eight assists.
Also scoring in double figures were junior Jeremy Halverson with 13 points and juniors Kyle Soltis and Aidan Guthrie with 10 apiece.
The Cardinals shot a staggering 74 percent from the floor in the contest.
Upsala followed up that performance with a 103-74 victory over visiting Swanville, Tuesday.
Juniors Austin Johnson (16), Jordan Sales (14) and Tyler Evans (13) scored in double figures for Swanville.
Senior Cody Mollner followed with seven points and freshmen Charlie Kurowski and Bennet Primus both added six.
The game marked the third time Upsala has triple digits this season and the 16th time the team has shot 50 percent or better.
“We are playing very well right now, especially offensively,” Capelle said. “Christian and Dylan have obviously been the core of our scoring, but we have seen increasing production from some of our other players, which makes us much more difficult to defend … I’m not sure we can get any better, but I always feel we can improve somewhere, so we’ll break down film and find areas to work on while we prepare for the next game.”
Bulldogs, Royals tripped up
Sales had 23 points and 12 rebounds, but host Kimball Area knocked off Swanville 78-64, Monday.
Mollner also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Evans recorded 12 points and nine assists.
Senior Aaron Miller and Johnson each chipped in six points.
Royalton fell 65-26 at Long Prairie-Grey Eagle (LPGE), Feb. 13 and 59-36 to visiting Osakis, Tuesday.
Sophomore Ben Borash led the Royals with 11 points against LPGE.
Sophomore Matt Dalieden scored 10 points against Osakis, with senior Kasey Stevens netting seven points and sophomore Shane Vannurden adding six.
Junior Matt Fountain grabbed eight rebounds.
Section 5A schedule
Upsala will be the second seed in Sub-Section 5A South and host the winner between No. 7 East Central and No. 10 St. Cloud Christian, Thursday.
With a win, the Cardinals would advance to play the winner between No. 3 Kimball Area and No. 6 Onamia at Little Falls, Saturday, March 1.
Swanville is the fourth seed and will host fifth-seeded Isle, Thursday.
Royalton is the eighth seed and will host No. 9 Ogilvie, Monday.
With a win, Royalton would advance to play at top-seeded Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, Thursday.
That winner will play against the winner between Swanville and Isle at Little Falls, Saturday, March 1.