BOSTON TWP. — Over the course of three seasons with the Highland boys basketball team, Collin Rittman has done a lot of great things. Tuesday, the senior forward became immortal.
Rittman scored his 1,000th career point and led the Hornets to a big 74-70 non-conference win over defending Portage Trail Conference Metro Division champion Woodridge.
“He’s in pretty rare company,” Highland coach Adam Cestaro said. “You figure we’ve been a school for (65) years and it’s only happened six times, so it doesn’t happen very often. It’s a special accomplishment.”
With 1,011 points, Rittman joins Rob Wininger, Brad Reusch, Brogan Scott, Tanner Houska and John Hatch, who scored a portion of his points in two seasons at Granger-Sharon, as the only players from Highland to reach four digits.
Rittman also is the 34th documented boys player in Medina County history to score 1,000 or more.
“I didn’t really realize it until halftime when the game stopped,” Rittman said. “It gave me time to think about it in the locker room. It means a lot. It shows my hard work has paid off and the grind has paid off. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates making great passes throughout the years.”
Those teammates took time to marvel at the accomplishment and share in the celebration.
No. 1,000 came with 40.7 seconds left in the second period, when the 6-foot-2 senior took a pass from Jarrett Smith and hit a reverse layup to make it 34-28 Highland.
The buzzer at Woodridge sounded immediately. Rittman’s accomplishment was recognized and he was cheered by both sides as the referee handed the ball to Cestaro for safekeeping.
“We know what he’s capable of,” said power forward Ryan Frederick, who finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. “I’ve played with him for eight years. I know what he wants to do. I know how he plays. We don’t take it for granted. I’m proud of him. Every day in practice he goes 100 percent. He’s one of our captains and he shows it. It’s great to be a part of that.”
As Rittman has done so many times, he led the Hornets (7-5) in scoring. The small forward finished 9-for-18 from the floor and had a game-high 14 rebounds.
“He keeps improving on his legacy all the time,” said center Landon Mazzocco, who finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and a game-high five assists. “He shows up every night. He always helps our team out with points, rebounds and assists. It’s great for him. It was his night. It’s a good accomplishment. Not many people have done it.”
Rittman’s gritty performance was indicative of the team’s play. Fresh off a 70-67 double-overtime Suburban League American Conference win over Tallmadge, no one would have faulted Highland if it took a step back against the Bulldogs (8-3).
Instead, the Hornets jumped to a double-digit lead in the third quarter before tired legs made the game closer than it appeared in the end.
While Woodridge forward Mason Lydic led all scorers with 27 points, the senior standout had to take 27 shots to make 10.
Highland’s proficiency on the boards frustrated the Bulldogs as well, as the Hornets held a 46-32 advantage and had four players with at least five.
“This was huge,” Frederick said. “Coach has gotten us in shape the whole season. He teaches us to keep playing and give 100 percent. If we need a sub, he’ll sub us, so we just keep going 100 percent.”
The Highland junior varsity knocked off Woodridge 51-43. Bryce Profitt and Sam Waibel had 10 points each for the Hornets.
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Highland 74, Woodridge 70
HIGHLAND 19 17 21 17 — 74
WOODRIDGE 13 17 16 24 — 70
Highland — Collin Rittman 9-0-19, Ryan Frederick 6-1-18, Landon Mazzocco 5-5-15, Jarrett Smith 3-0-9, Jake Rogers 1-1-3, Alex Jaworski 2-0-4, Pete Gmitric 2-0-6, Ryan Chema 0-0-0, Devin Myers 0-0-0, Connor Klein 0-0-0, Jake Osborne 0-0-0. TOTALS: 28-7-74.
Woodridge — Elijah Arnett 3-1-7, Mason Lydic 10-5-27, Ikye Leggette 4-4-14, Joseph Mehalik 2-0-5, D.J. Snyder 4-0-8, Christian Malone 0-0-0, Jabron Driskill 3-0-6, Josh Fleming 0-0-0, Logan Palmer 1-0-3. TOTALS: 27-10-70.
3-point goals — Frederick 5, Smith 3, Gmitric 2, Rittman, Lydic 2, Leggette 2, Arnett 2. Rebounds — Highland 46 (Rittman 14), Woodridge 32 (Leggette 10). Assists — Highland 19 (Mazzocco, Rogers 5). Records — Highland (7-5), Woodridge (8-3). Junior varsity — Highland 51, Woodridge 43.