GRANGER TWP. — Collin Rittman, Jarrett Smith and Landon Mazzocco aren’t imposing physical specimens, but the seniors formed their own version of a “Big Three” for the Highland boys basketball team Tuesday night.
Weighing an average of 168.7 pounds, the trio did a ton of everything as the Hornets took a break from the Suburban League American Conference grind to defeat Coventry 86-67 in non-league action.
In combining for 73 points, 22 rebounds and nine assists, Rittman, Smith and Mazzocco scored 57 of the Hornets’ first 59 points, 71 of their first 77 and 73 of their first 81 before coach Adam Cestaro began clearing his bench with about 2½ minutes to play.
With the Comets (11-8) closing hard on shooters from their man-to-man defense and rarely having a defender in position to help, Rittman finished with 34 points on 14-for-22 shooting and 6-for-6 at the line, 10 rebounds, six assists and six steals. In the even-numbered quarters, the 6-foot-2, 165-pound small forward had 24 points on 10-for-11 and 4-for-4.
“They seemed to want to get out on our shooters the whole time,” Rittman said. “That’s what made it easier for us to get into the lane. That defense helped contribute to some of the layups.”
Smith, a 6-3, 165-pound shooting guard who hit the only two 3-pointers of the game for Highland (12-8), finished with a career-high 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting and 3-for-3 at the line, plus four rebounds, while 6-3, 175-pound center Mazzocco had 18 points on 8-for-12 and 2-for-2, plus eight boards and three assists.
Add it up and The Big Three went 30-for-46 from the floor (.652) and was perfect on 11 free throws. The rest of the team combined to go just 4-for-23 from the field — Pete Gmitric had seven points, five rebounds and three assists off the bench — but it didn’t matter.
“It seemed like a one-on-one game out there,” said Mazzocco, who had eight points and five boards in the first 5:34. “They were probably worried about our shooters. It made it a little easier to get inside.”
In putting up quarter scoring totals of 21, 21, 21 and 23 points, the only time the Hornets slowed down was when a 10-minute delay ensued after one of the volleyball post covers came loose early in the second period and had to be taped down.
Other than Smith’s two threes, The Big Three’s 28 other field goals came on what were basically layups or putbacks. Smith got a number of his hoops on great drives going left, while Rittman and Mazzocco basically took turns feeding one another.
“I think I know when (Mazzocco) is going to cut before he does, and he’s the same way when I don’t have the ball,” Rittman said. “We both know where the other is going to be.”
Include Smith in that mix as well.
“We always know where the other guy is,” Mazzocco said. “With the way (Smith and Rittman) move without the ball, I just do my best to find them.”
Ahead 21-19 after the first period, Highland scored seven unanswered points in about 20 seconds late in the second quarter to go up 42-31 at intermission.
The Comets kept it a respectable 63-49 after three behind great efforts from small forward Jarmond Hogg (32 points, 6 rebounds) and center Sam Vanadia (16, 12, 2 assists), but they never stopped the Hornets long enough to make a serious run.
“It was a nice change of pace,” Rittman said of the run-and-gun, non-league game. “We got to go out and do what we’ve always done. It was fun to get up and down like that.”
Tied for first place in the loss column with Revere and Copley in the SL American — Tallmadge and Barberton are a game back — the Hornets will attempt to carry their momentum into a game at Tallmadge on Friday.
“We’re playing great right now,” Rittman said. “It’s the end of the year, so that’s what we’re supposed to be doing.”
Highland cruised to a 47-21 win in the junior varsity game behind 12 points from Ryan Chema.
Highland 86, Coventry 67
COVENTRY 19 12 18 18 — 67
HIGHLAND 21 21 21 23 — 86
Coventry — Jarmond Hogg 12-4-32, Nate Skaggs 2-1-6, Sam Vanadia 8-0-16, Jayson Wagner 1-0-3, Micah Wallace 3-0-8, Cody Juersivich 0-2-2, Jacob Garrett 0-0-0, Fabian Diaz 0-0-0, Lane Boyer 0-0-0, Brandon Lux 0-0-0, C.J. Zittle 0-0-0. TOTALS: 26-7-67.
Highland — Collin Rittman 14-6-34, Ryan Frederick 0-0-0, Landon Mazzocco 8-2-18, Jarrett Smith 8-3-21, Jake Rogers 1-2-4, Pete Gmitric 2-3-7, Alex Jaworski 0-0-0, Ryan Chema 0-0-0, Ryan Acks 0-0-0, Cole Tessena 0-0-0, Jacob Maschke 0-0-0, Bryce Profitt 1-0-2. TOTALS: 34-16-86.
3-point goals — Hogg 4, Wallace 2, Wagner, Skaggs, Smith 2. Rebounds — Coventry 29 (Vanadia 12), Highland 37 (Rittman 10). Assists — Coventry 11 (Wallace 4), Highland 16 (Rittman 6). Records — Coventry (11-8), Highland (12-7). Junior varsity — Highland 47, Coventry 21.