By Jordan J. Michael
BERNE –– Garrett Pitcher is 16 points away from passing his grandfather, Ted, as the all-time male leading basketball scorer at Berne-Knox-Westerlo.
There are only two gentlemen on the Bulldogs’ 1,000-point list and both have Pitcher as a last name.
Garrett Pitcher ended up with 1,008 points after BKW beat Mayfield, 64 to 55, at home on Tuesday. Ted Pitcher said he has no problem surrendering his record to his grandson.
Mr. Pitcher knew that this day would eventually come.
“The way he’s been going, I knew he would do it,” said Mr. Pitcher, who graduated from BKW in 1955. “That’s why I come to the games. I want him to pass me on the board. That’s why I’m here.”
Garrett Pitcher averages 23 points per game for the Bulldogs. He’s a great scorer, fully capable from both close and far range, but he can play all roles. Pitcher had four blocks on Tuesday to go with 24 points, assists, steals, rebounds, and deflections.
“He’s doing the things that allow his team to win,” said BKW Head Coach Andy Wright, who has coached Pitcher since he was a freshman. “He’s a complete basketball player. He does everything well.”
Mayfield came out in the first quarter looking like the better team. Pitcher struggled to get open shots, making one basket and netting four free throws
in the first quarter. Pitcher needed 16 points for 1,000, and he went into halftime with 12 points after sinking a three-pointer before the buzzer.
The Dog Pound went wild, and BKW led by four points at halftime.
“I let it come to me,” Pitcher said. “I didn’t force it. That’s what I always do.”
Wright told The Enterprise that the Bulldogs weren’t focusing on Pitcher’s record because the team had an important game to win. After beating Mayfield, BKW is 11-6 with one more regular-season game at Saratoga Catholic on Saturday. A victory on Saturday would give the Bulldogs a chance for a home Class C sectional game.
“I wasn’t trying to be the center of attention,” Pitcher said. “The focus for tonight was winning, playing good defense, and playing as a team. If the record came, then good.”
Early in the third quarter, Pitcher made a lay-up while being fouled and added the free throw for 15 points. On the next trip down the court for BKW, Pitcher again made a shot while being fouled under the basket for 1,001 points. The game stalled as teammates congratulated Pitcher.
Then, he calmly made the free throw for 1,002.
Pitcher said his grandfather has taught him a lot of different things, including his favorite baseline jumper, but the most important lesson was mentality. Mr. Pitcher’s mental part of the game lives in his grandson.
“He taught me how to stay calm, hit the big shot,” Pitcher said of his elder. “To go far in basketball, you have to have more than one dimension. You have to try and play every position.”
Pitcher acknowledged his team for their hard work and support.
“He leads by example, always has,” Wright said. “He’s always done the right thing.”
However, Pitcher has never been the obvious number-one option for BKW’s offense. He played with a lot of talent over the years –– Ryan LaBelle during his freshman year, and Nate Krimsky during his sophomore and junior seasons. Now, he shares the ball with the likes of fellow senior Tristan Wilson and junior Tanner Laurie, but Pitcher is the Bulldogs’ top guy.
“He’s become our number one by emerging through perseverance,” said Wright of Pitcher. “He always puts the time into his game, and he’s always been the best all-around player.”
Since 2004, four female players have scored 1,000 points for BKW –– Liz Harvey (2013), Andrea Van Dyke (2009), Kim Sikule (2004), and Sarah Domermuth (2004). It took Pitcher almost 60 years to become BKW’s second male.
Wright said that’s it’s very rare for an eighth-grade boy to make varsity because of the tough classification tests. The task is also difficult for freshman boys.
“You can bring up girls earlier than guys because of the level of physicality,” said Wright. “Unless you’re a man-child at 13 or 14 years old, you’re not going to be able to withstand the nightly punishment.”
At 6 feet, 5 inches, Pitcher withstood the retribution of varsity for four years. He’s one of the most consistent players BKW has ever had. Pitcher wants to play basketball in college while majoring in business.
Scott Pitcher, Garrett’s father, had at one point asked Ted Pitcher what his grandson could do differently. Mr. Pitcher told his son that Garrett was doing a fine job, so he had nothing to suggest.
“I like him as a kid; he’s the man,” Ted Pitcher said. “He’s easy to get along with…He’s a sweetheart.”