A few years ago, a group of smiling teenagers on the Towanda High School basketball team confronted their basketball coach, Ken Fritchman, after school.
They wanted to know if the article they found on the Internet was true. Did their coach really score 66 points in a high school game?
Oh yes, he did.
Laughing, recalling the encounter, Fritchman said he reassured his players that this didn't mean he would change his team's offense.
Fritchman played the starring role in what remains one of the most memorable games in York County history. On Jan. 15, 1979, Eastern York defeated York Suburban to earn a third-place tie in the YCIAA Eastern Division. But the game held so much more intrigue. Fritchman scored 66 points in an era before the 3-point shot. It's a league record that remains to this day. But that's not all that happened. York Suburban countered with a pair of teammates — Eric Barnes and Tom Triggs — scoring 30 points. Fritchman and Triggs each surpassed 1,000 career points. And the teams combined for what is believed to be a league record for most points scored in a game, a 107-106 win for Eastern in double overtime.
And then there was the behind-the-scenes connection, Fritchman and Triggs were friends, two kids who played tennis against each other at Wisehaven.
Somewhere a snapshot exists of that night, the two opponents posed for their family and friends, perhaps understanding how unique of a night it had been.
"Before the game we joked about scoring 1,000 points, because we didn't know who would get it first," Fritchman said. "We were both nervous. I got it first, and then he got it. So we gave away two basketballs that night."
Then the real fun started.
"It felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders," Fritchman said about reaching 1,000 career points. "Then I pretty much went berserk. And Tom pretty much did as well."
A 6-foot-2 shooting guard, he was the tallest player — and he joked, "the skinniest player, but not anymore" — in Eastern's starting lineup. He scored 51 points in regulation, and then added 15 in overtime, scoring all of Eastern's points after regulation except the first two and last two of the extra sessions. Fritchman shot 77 percent from the floor (27-of-35), according to a Gettysburg Times article from March 27, 1979.
How amazing was Fritchman's performance? Years later, Fritchman said someone reviewed film of the double-overtime game and reached out to him.
"They estimated I would have scored 83 points with the 3-point shot," Fritchman said, "which I thought was funny."
Only Spring Grove's George Smith — in the Rockets' 90-81 win against West York on Feb. 12, 1963 — has come within 10 points of matching Fritchman's total.
Still, Fritchman thinks of the record as a team mark.
"It was our big guys setting screens, our point guards dishing," Fritchman said.
"And up in the stands, it was two people who are no longer alive, it was my mother and father (Harriet and Kenneth) — who never missed a game — supporting me through thick and thin," Fritchman said.
He had a sister, Lynn Lenhart, who was "fanatical" at keeping statistics of all his games.
"That's important stuff when you're developing ... you look back on things that were important and what might have happened had you not had them," Fritchman said.
Sent by Steve Kline, 11/14/17