GRANGER TWP. — The Barberton boys basketball team was determined not to let 1,000-point scorer Collin Rittman and 3-point specialist Ryan Frederick get easy looks, so Landon Mazzocco and Jarrett Smith went nuts instead.
The duo combined for 45 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists Friday as Highland downed the Magics 74-64 in Suburban League American Conference play.
With Barberton (5-7, 2-3) face-guarding the scoreless Frederick above the arc, plus making it difficult for Rittman (17 points, 5 rebounds) to catch the ball and shading toward him when he did, the court became wide open for 6-foot-3 center Mazzocco and 6-3 shooting guard Smith.
They made the Magics pay over and over again, as Mazzocco put up a career-high 25 points on 11-for-12 shooting, nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while Smith made four 3-pointers in finishing with 20 points, four boards and six assists as the Hornets improved to 8-5, 5-1.
“When they face guard like that, there’s not much help against us,” Mazzocco said. “It’s basically one-on-one out there. It opens up the hoop a lot more.”
Save for one baby hook, all of Mazzocco’s field goals came on layups — the senior’s drop steps and up-and-unders would have made Basketball Hall of Famer Kevin McHale proud — or putbacks, with many of the former coming off passes from Smith.
“Them chasing (Rittman and Frederick) really helped,” Mazzocco said. “They didn’t have much rim protection.”
The athletic Smith scored the last hoop of the first half and hit a three to start the second, ending a 9-0 run that put Highland up 37-30.
Barberton pulled within 44-43, but Highland went on a 10-1 spurt to go up 54-44 late in the third period and the Magics never seriously threatened after that.
Included in Highland’s second run was a driving hoop by Mazzocco. He then blocked a shot by Magics small forward Zane Ries (17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), grabbed the rebound, drove the length of the court and hit a baby hook.
“It’s always been there,” Smith said of Mazzocco’s scoring explosion. “He’s really crafty around the rim. We try to get the ball to him and he just beats his guy.”
Smith did a lot of that as well, repeatedly driving and either finishing at the rim or dishing to Mazzocco if a weak-side defender slid over.
“Getting to the basket was a lot easier because they weren’t helping,” Smith said. “Mazzocco is really good at getting open, so it’s easy to drop the pass to him.”
Mazzocco was great all night, putting up 11 points and four rebounds in the first quarter and 15 and seven in the first half, while Smith hit all four of his threes over the final three periods.
Once they established their dominance, things opened up for Rittman, who had five points on 2-for-8 shooting in the first half and 12 on 6-for-9 in the second.
The Hornets also got a nice game off the bench from Pete Gmitric (7 points, 4 rebounds), while Barberton got 14 points and nine boards from center Garrett Turnbaugh, 13 points and four assists from shooting guard Jordan Soyars and 10 points and six rebounds from power forward Jordan Greynolds.
Mazzocco, Smith and then Rittman were just too much, however, as they combined for 62 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists.
“He’s such a great player,” Mazzocco said of Rittman. “He knows how to share the wealth. When they’re doubling him like that, he’ll find the open guy.”
- Ryan Chema, Cole Tessena and Armin Gasser had nine points apiece as the Highland junior varsity cruised to a 63-44 win.
- The Highland freshman team won a never-ending game — the Hornets took 41 free throws — 53-44 behind 17 points from Rob Huttner and 11 from Carson Levandowski.
Highland 74, Barberton 64
BARBERTON 16 14 17 17 — 64
HIGHLAND 20 14 20 20 — 74
Barberton — Zane Ries 7-3-17, Jordan Greynolds 3-2-10, Garrett Turnbaugh 7-0-14, Jordan Soyars 6-1-13, Maxwell Littlejohn 0-0-0, Juan Franklin 3-2-8, Jaret Barclay 1-0-2, Macolm Boyd 0-0-0, Ziare Wright 0-0-0, TOTALS: 27-8-64.
Highland — Collin Rittman 8-1-17, Ryan Frederick 0-0-0, Landon Mazzocco 11-3-25, Jarrett Smith 6-4-20, Jake Rogers 1-2-5, Pete Gmitric 3-0-7, Alex Jaworski 0-0-0, Ryan Acks 0-0-0, Connor Klein 0-0-0, Devin Myers 0-0-0. TOTALS: 29-10-74.
3-point goals — Greynolds 2, Smith 4, Rogers, Gmitric. Rebounds — Barberton 28 (Turnbaugh 9), Highland 27 (Mazzocco 9). Assists — Barberton 9 (Soyars 4), Highland 14 (Smith 6). Records — Barberton (5-7, 2-3), Highland (8-5, 5-1). Junior varsity — Highland 63, Barberton 44.