Lukau reaches milestone

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Naugatuck senior Jean Lukau, right, and Naugatuck head coach Mike Wilson pose for a photo after Lukau scored his 1,000th career point Jan. 25 in a win over Torrington at Naugatuck High School. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — Only 16 players in the history of Naugatuck High basketball had scored 1,000 career points entering 2019. In Naugatuck’s win against Torrington Jan. 25, senior Jean Lukau made it 17, becoming the first player since Brandon Kuczenski in 2013 to reach 1,000 career points.

Heading into the Torrington matchup, Lukau needed 11 points to reach the milestone, and he got exactly that against the Red Raiders. With under a minute left in the game and with 10 points, Lukau was fouled after an offensive rebound and sent to the line for two. He hit the first one to end the game with exactly 1,000 career points.

“It was on my mind for a while, but I know God does everything for a reason,” Lukau said. “I knew I only needed one point going to the free throw line, but God was telling me ‘son I got you.’”

Lukau seemed to be in for a big night to get to 1,000. He finished the first quarter with seven points. However, foul trouble kept him out of much of the game.

He hit a free throw early in the second half to get within three points. After several unsuccessful attempts from three, the senior was able to hit a driving layup minutes before he was sent to the free throw line.

Lukau said it was very special to score his 1,000th point in a Naugatuck uniform and to do it in front of the home crowd.

“Scoring my 1,000th in Naugy makes it ten times better,” Lukau said. “Reaching 1,000 felt pretty good because I had the support of my teammates, coaches and the town.”

Coach Mike Wilson was happy to see the support of Lukau’s teammates, too.

“I was proud of the guys tonight because they were excited for their teammate,” Wilson told the Republican-American after the game. “That is what we ask for here, a comradery. Everyone was pumped for him.”

Lukau broke onto the scene last season, averaging 23 points per game. That average has dropped a bit this season, but Naugatuck is also a different team this year. Freshman Ese Onakpoma was the leading scorer in the game against Torrington. Avery Hinnant, Derrick Jagello and Gawayne Fisher have also led the team in scoring in several games this season.

“Last year, I feel I was more worried about the stats than simply being able to come home with the win,” Lukau said. “This year, coach told me to trust the system and everything else will come. I’m trusting my teammates and knowing that we can conquer anything as long as we are one.”

With more depth this season, the team hasn’t had to rely on Lukau as much. Despite this, Lukau accomplished the 1,000-point feat in less than three full seasons.

Lukau actually delivered a little friendly trash talk to Wilson, his coach, who reached the 1,000-point mark in 1999 as a player at Naugy.

“My coach also hit 1,000 and I feel like I’m right on the right path to be as good as he was,” Lukau said. “Or I’m already better than him because I hit it in three years and I don’t think he did it in three years.”

Wilson also joked around about it after the game.

“I think we are all happy it is over with,” Wilson told the Republican-American. “He needed 11 points and that was an ugly 11 points.”

Wilson, Lukau and the Greyhounds can now focus on the end of the season. The Greyhounds (11-5) have been on a roll and won six straight games, including a 76-38 win against Watertown on Jan. 31 and a 63-43 win over Woodland on Feb. 1.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the version that is published in the Feb. 7 Citizen’s News to include information a game played after press time.