Tyler Fritz becomes Colts’ all-time leading scorer
They jammed the gym Thursday at Marian High School for a much-anticipated showdown between the Colts and Schuylkill Haven.
The game pitted the Schuylkill Boys Basketball League Division 2 and Division 3 leaders.
Just five days after the two teams met in a non-league matchup in Schuylkill Haven that saw the Colts overcome a double-digit fourth quarter deficit to pull out the win, they were back at it.
After four quarters of clawing, hammering and body-bumping, the Colts once again galloped across the finish line with the victory.
Marian’s 75-63 victory not only provided a great team highlight to a season that has been packed with them for the Colts, but it also provided a memorable individual highlight as well.
Marian star Tyler Fritz, a 6-3 dynamo guard, who can shake-and-bake with the best in any league, was honing in on the school’s all-time boys basketball scoring record.
Fritz entered the contest needing just 10 points to leap 1997 graduate Joe Horvat and take over the top spot in Marian history.
Despite Haven throwing a picket fence of defenders at him — Fritz sometimes saw as many as three players running at him when he touched the ball — Fritz and the Colts weren’t going to be denied.
Fritz broke the record on one of his patented jumpers from three-point range with 2:35 left in the opening half. When the ball smoothly tickled the twines, the gym erupted in celebration. He finished with another impressive 30-point effort.
“It’s fun to watch Tyler play,” said Marian coach John Patton, who praised his star’s team-first approach even on a night when he was on the brink of a huge individual milestone. “He’s such an unselfish player. His main focus is always on the team and helping us win.”
Fritz’s record-breaking basket gave the Colts a 27-24 lead and they went into halftime holding a 29-28 advantage.
“The first half was a little loose. We turned the ball over way too often early on,” said Patton.
One could sense momentum turning in the Colts’ favor late in the third quarter. The teams were deadlocked at 40-40 when Marian caught some wind in its sails.
Fritz kissed a shot off the window, before super sub Zack Hnat muscled his way into traffic for a deuce. When Fritz took the ‘Canes to school on a nifty move to the iron for an easy lay in, Marian had a 46-40 lead that it eventually extended to 51-44 after three quarters.
The Colts maintained the advantage throughout the fourth quarter before Dante Agosti’s four free throws, Chris Ritsick’s pair, and an Agosti layup closed out the victory.
A big key for Marian in the game was its domination off the glass. The Colts swooped in for 50 rebounds — 21 more than Haven.
Patton gave plenty of credit to his inside players — in particular Hnat, who came off the bench to score 12 points and grab four rebounds, and John Malarkey who pulled down 12 rebounds and scored seven points. Fritz was also a huge factor inside, grabbing 13 rebounds to go with his 30 points.
On a night when he broke the school’s individual scoring record, Fritz preferred to talk about the team.
“I’m just so happy we won,” he said.
POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE … Fritz was presented with a gold basketball. The senior was most gracious, praising his dad Damian, who was a standout player at Tamaqua, for helping him get his start in the game. Horvat was also present for Fritz’s big night. Horvat scored 1,638 points during his career.
CHIPPING IN ... In addition to the double figure games from Fritz and Hnat, the Colts also got 15 points from Agosti and 11 from Ritsick.
EVANS DELIVERS … Albie Evans is a terrific player for the Hurricanes. He scored a team-high 20 points.
Evans 8-4-4-20, Ulsh 4-4-6 13, Carter 5-1-1-13, Miller 2-4-4-9, Higgins 2-2-2-6, Houtz 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 22-15-17-63.
T. Fritz 9-8-10-30, Agosti 3-6-6-15, Hnat 5-2-6-12, Ritsick 3-4-4-11, Malarkey 2-3-5-7, L. Fritz 0-0-0-0, Eroh 0-0-0-0, Chambers 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-23-31-75.
Sch. Haven 10 18 16 19 - 63
Marian 15 14 22 24 - 75
Three-pointers: Schuylkill Haven - Carter 2, Miller 1, Ulsh 1; Marian - T.Fritz 4, Agosti 3, Ritsick 1.