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New Hartford’s Philipkoski: ‘Surreal’ feeling in becoming program’s scoring leader

Ben Birnell
Sports writer
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Posted 1/11/23

For the first time in more than 20 years, there’s a new name at the top of the New Hartford boys basketball program’s all-time scoring list.

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New Hartford’s Philipkoski: ‘Surreal’ feeling in becoming program’s scoring leader


NEW HARTFORD — For the first time in more than 20 years, there’s a new name at the top of the New Hartford boys basketball program’s all-time scoring list.

It is first-team all-state guard/forward Zach Philipkoski.

The senior, who is in his fourth season on the varsity squad, reached 1,420 points during the Spartans’ 66-57 win over Tri-Valley League foe Proctor on Tuesday in New Hartford.

“It is surreal,” Philipkoski said. “You dream about this as a kid and being able to do something like this is an honor.” 

Heading into Tuesday, he needed 29 points to set the New Hartford record. He got within striking distance with 19 first-half points to help New Hartford build a lead the team wouldn’t relinquish.

Tim Welchons Jr. previously held the top spot with 1,416 points since 2002 and Ron Evans was second with 1,315. 

Philipkoski — arguably one of the best basketball players in Section III right now — surpassed Welchons Jr.’s mark with 1:23 remaining in the third quarter Tuesday. He used a crossover and a spin move in an isolation play to get by Proctor star Todd Abraham with some contact and put in a floater from the lane. It was Philipkoski’s 29th and 30th points of the game. 

“I just tried to go out there and play,” said Philipkoski when asked how he approached getting closer to the scoring record. 

New Hartford coach John Randall said Welchons’ father was at the game.

The game was briefly paused as the public address announcer declared that Philipkoski had reached the milestone. The New Hartford student section chanted “MVP! MVP!” after the announcement and his teammates briefly celebrated with him. 

“When the (record-breaking basket) first went in, I didn’t know,” said Philipkoski, who missed a few minutes of game time in the fourth quarter after suffering a cramp in his left calf. “I just thought we were calling a timeout. Once everyone started going crazy, I figured it out.” 

Philipkoski finished 11-for-21 from the field – most of his points came from around the basket —and he went 7-for-7 on free throws. He added nine rebounds, seven steals and two blocks. 

He was greeted by a large group of family and friends following the game. He posed for pictures with teammates and friends to celebrate. 

Randall said he thought Philipkoski handled the situation well and “went with the flow.” 

Reaching the milestone on New Hartford’s court was special as the team’s next three games are each on the road. New Hartford is 4-0 in the TVL and 5-4 overall. 

“I think we’ll take a deep breath – along with his parents – that he got (the record) at New Hartford,” Randall said. “He definitely earned it. I don’t think he forced anything. It came pretty natural to him. But, it has for the last four years. He doesn’t really try to do too much. If the shot is available, he’ll take it. He was pretty tough inside and got a lot of put-backs and easy baskets.” 

Tuesday was the third time Philipkoski scored more than 30 points this season and the 12th time in the last two seasons.

Philipkoski is averaging 26.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.1 steals.

“I think (this season) is going pretty well,” said Philipkoski, who noted he is still considering his college options. “All I want to do is win.” 

New Hartford has 11 regular-season games left (and postseason) to add to his 1,420 career points. His next opportunity to add to the total is Thursday when the team travels to take on Mekeel Christian Academy in a rematch of their 2022 state regional championship game that New Hartford claimed with a buzzer-beating shot. 

Randall said Philipkoski and fellow senior Colton Suriano (11 points, 12 rebounds Tuesday) have been key components in helping the New Hartford program have success over the last few seasons. 

“I just think that (Zach) understands that if the other guys don’t get better we’re not going to get to where we need to be. That’s not easy when you can score the way he can,” said Randall, who noted that Philipkoski has grown into a “college basketball player’s body. He’s become more of a coach out there.” 


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