Cattoor breaks Virginia Tech record in win over Boise State

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — It was an especially happy homecoming for Hunter Cattoor.

In his return to the area where he grew up, Cattoor broke the Virginia Tech career record for 3-pointers Thursday night in an 82-75 win over Boise State in the first round of the ESPN Events Invitational.

Cattoor made five 3-pointers, giving him a school-record 270 in his five Tech seasons. He eclipsed the record of 267 that was held by A.D. Vassallo, who played for Tech from 2006-09.

“Grateful,” said Cattoor, who scored 19 points in the win. “Grateful to God for all the opportunities I’ve gotten in this game of basketball since I was a kid. Grateful for all the coaches and teammates that I’ve had.”

Cattoor, who broke the record in the first half, is from Orlando, Florida. This tournament is being held in the Orlando area, so Cattoor broke the record in front of about 15 friends and family members, including his parents. The game was played at Walt Disney World Resort’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, where Cattoor played many soccer and AAU basketball games while growing up.

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“It’s kind of cool. Full circle,” Cattoor said. “I’ve been playing here since the third grade — AAU tournaments. So to … do it here in front of family and friends, for people that have supported me — they have a hand in that record, too — it means a lot.”

As a high school senior in the fall of 2018, Cattoor signed to play Mike Young at Wofford. When Young got the Tech job in the April 2019, Cattoor got his release from his letter of intent and signed with the Hokies.

Did Young know Cattoor was this good a shooter when he recruited him?

“Hell no. I was hoping he’d get on the floor at some point in his career,” Young cracked with a laugh.

Was Cattoor this good a shooter in high school?

“Yeah, he was,” Young said. “It’s just so hard to project where guys are going to be in a year, two years.

“But [he has] unbelievable work habits. He’s got an unbelievable routine. He’s going to lift every morning at 6 a.m. He’s going to go on the floor, he’s going to do an individual workout. And he’s done it day after day after day after day.

“He’s earned it. Nothing given to him. And I’m awfully proud of him.”

Once Cattoor made four 3-pointers in Tech’s win over Wofford last weekend at Cassell Coliseum, it became a safe bet that he would break the record during this tournament.

“Monday, after the Wofford game, he said, ‘You know, I’d loved to have done it in the Cassell, but to be able to go home and hopefully do it there would be quite the experience,’” Young said. “Glad it worked out.”

Lynn Kidd also scored 19 points for Tech (4-1). Tech reserve wing Tyler Nickel scored 14 points in 32 minutes.

“Nickel came in tonight and offered a really nice spark,” Young said. “He really competed. Shot selection was terrific. I thought he picked his spots well. I thought he moved away from the ball well. Did a lot of things to help our team.”

Nickel made a free throw to give Tech the lead for good at 61-60 with 8:04 to go. Kidd made two free throws and dunked to extend the lead to 65-60.

Tech point guard Sean Pedulla had 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds. He was just 5 of 16 from the field, but he made two key baskets down the stretch.

Pedulla sank a deep 3-pointer with the shot clock expiring to extend the lead to 75-70 with 2:10 left. He made a layup to give Tech a 77-70 cushion.

“I didn’t even see the shot clock until I had to shoot it,” Pedulla said of the 3-pointer.

“He’s a big-league player and he’s doing it night and night out,” Young said.

After falling to South Carolina 79-77 earlier this month, Tech was able to win a close game Thursday.

“We’ve got a lot of grit and a lot of toughness in us because we got punched in the mouth early,” Nickel said. “Then second half, they make their runs, we punch right back.”

The Broncos (2-2), who reached the NCAA Tournament last season, made six of their first seven shots to build a 14-2 lead. They led 34-24 with 6:18 to go in the first half.

“We got punched in the mouth from the beginning,” Cattoor said. “Sometimes in games, you can’t do that. Luckily, we have a resilient group. We’ve got a tough group.”

“We were God awful defensively,” Young said. “But we got settled. We got three suts — a sut for is three consecutive stops on the defensive end. We deflected some.”

Tech closed the half on a 20-7 run to grab a 44-41 halftime lead.

“We [were] more locked in,” Kidd said. “Like [Cattoor] said, we got punched in the mouth. It was a wakeup call.”

Robbie Beran and Mekhi Long each had four points.

“Robbie and Mekhi are defending. They’re doing things that help us win,” Young said. “We’ll figure the rest of that out. That is on me. I’ve got to do a better job of putting them in better places to score.”

Mark Berman (540) 981-3125

[email protected] 

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