Drew Scharnowski’s stellar season leads top-seeded Burlington Central into state playoffs

Drew Scharnowski, Burlington Central’s 6-9 senior, flows and floats on the court with an easy athleticism that is uncommon.

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Burlington Central’s Andrew Scharnowski (21) shows his athleticism as the Rockets play Huntley.

Burlington Central’s Andrew Scharnowski (21) shows his athleticism as the Rockets play Huntley.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

High school kids are awkward. That’s natural. High school big men take things to another level. No matter how promising a prospect is, when you get to 6-9 and taller there is almost always a hitch, a hesitation, some kind of very obvious flaw.

Drew Scharnowski, Burlington Central’s 6-9 senior, somehow avoided most of that. He flows and floats on the court with an easy athleticism that is uncommon.

Scharnowski has no clue how that grace happened and (probably correctly) puts it down to good genes.

“It just comes like that to me,” Scharnowski said. “My dad has always been tall and moves well and my mom was a Division I swimmer.”

Scharnowski took the good fortune and made himself into a dominant basketball player, not just a tall kid.

The Belmont recruit is averaging 24 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks. He finished with 16 points and seven rebounds in three quarters of play on the road Friday, leading the Rockets to a 60-47 win against Huntley.

“[Scharnowski] is a hard worker,” teammate Nick Gouriotis said. “I’ve been there for a lot of that. He might be the hardest worker I know. It’s awesome because you see the progression. Each year he just gets better mentally, physically and just as a basketball player as a whole.”

Scharnowski is generally acknowledged as the best player in Burlington Central history.

“Some great players have come through here but with what he’s done this year he has cemented his legacy,” Rockets coach Brett Porto said.

Burlington Central (26-5, 15-2 Fox Valley) jumped on Huntley quickly, forcing a flurry of turnovers in the first few minutes of the game. The Red Raiders (20-10, 12-6) righted the ship and kept things close until midway through the third quarter when the Rockets went on a 10-0 run, led 46-27 and never looked back.

Burlington Central has been on the cusp of the Super 25 all season, but never cracked the rankings. The Rockets won their conference and are one of the two top seeds in the Class 3A Burlington Central Sectional.

All that success is a bit of a surprise. Scharnowski was expected to be excellent, but the Rockets lost every other starter from last year’s team, which was 31-4.

Several of Scharnowski’s senior classmates stepped up, including Gouriotis and Matt Lemon, the son of Daily Herald sportswriter John Lemon.

Lemon set a school record for assists this season with more than 160.

“I have pictures of myself at like three years old watching high school basketball with my dad,” Lemon said. “So it’s been special to get a chance to play and have this kind of a season. I remember going to Geneva-Batavia rivalries and the St. Charles games my dad was covering.”

So Lemon, a teenager that has already seen hundreds of high school basketball games, knows his teammate is special.

“With [Scharnowski] it’s basically like playing with another guard,” Lemon said. “You can put him anywhere on the court, one through five. It’s amazing to get to play with someone like that.”

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