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Cards’ Ritz turns heads with rebounding mark

Photo/TERRY HANCOCK WHEELING UNIVERSITY sophomore Lilly Ritz, who is a Cambridge graduate, blocks out as she prepares to go up for a rebound during last Saturday’s game against West Virginia State. Ritz finished with 36 rebounds in the game, equaling a NCAA Division II record.

WHEELING — Sometimes you hear a stat from a sporting event that makes you shake your head. Sometimes one can make you say, ‘wow’ and other times they’re so impressive you question who may have been keeping the stats.

All of the above applied to Wheeling University’s Lilly Ritz’s performance last Saturday at the Alma Grace McDonough Center against West Virginia State.

Ritz tied a Division II national record by pulling down 36 … yes thirty-six, rebounds for the Cardinals. I happed to be sitting at my computer, refreshed my Twitter and saw the post from Wheeling University pop in and immediately thought, ‘is that correct?”

Well, it absolutely was. Ritz was totally dominant. And that part isn’t new because the Cambridge High graduate has been doing that all winter. It’s gotten to the point where she should clearly be one of the frontrunners for the Mountain East Conference Player of the Year (but, that’s for a different column).

Ritz performance caught the attention of many this week. She was named the MEC Player of the Week and just Wednesday was announced as the recipient of the Division II National Player of the Week.

As for the record-tying game, Ritz was informed by a member of the Cardinals coaching staff, after the first quarter, that she had already collected 10 rebounds. She didn’t let up.

“I just kept rebounding,” Ritz said earlier this week. “I didn’t do anything differently than I had done throughout the season. The ball just seemed to be coming my way.”

Of Ritz’s rebounds, 23 came on the defensive end.

Ritz admitted that she expected to be able to produce at a high level for Wheeling, but she never dreamed about tying a national record or 36 rebounds.

“I just go out and try my hardest every game and hope that it turns out well,” Ritz said.

When the game ended, she had no clue that she had as many boards as she did. It was her father, Kevin, a former big-league pitcher, actually looked up the boxscore on his phone.

“It was pretty exciting to hear that,” Ritz recalled.

Ritz is listed on the Cardinals roster at 6-1, but she’s not just tall. She’s athletic, too. After all, she is a former all-Ohioan in the high jump and field and competes for Wheeling’s track team during the spring, too.

“It’s all instincts,” Ritz confessed. “I just have a knack for knowing where the ball is going to go.”

Ritz, who began her collegiate career at California, Pa., is a sophomore and is averaging 20.3 points to go along with her rebounding production.

“My brother (Kyle) had played here, and I had a couple of friends who went here, so I knew about (Wheeling) in the back of my head,” Ritz said. “Cal, Pa. just didn’t feel right. This is closer to home and being familiar with it was a big factor.”

As for what lies ahead, the Cardinals are currently 9-14 with five games remaining.

“The season started out rough, but it’s finally starting to come together and we’re playing some good basketball,” Ritz said. “Hopefully, we can make a good run in the (conference) tournament.”

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

CAITLYN KROLL, Ohio — Bridgeport grad scored seven points and collected five rebounds in a win over Kent State last Saturday.

ANGELA STAFFILENO, Duquesne — Brooke product scored two points and grabbed six rebounds in a win over St. Joseph’s last weekend. She played against Richmond on Wednesday.

MORGAN BRUNNER, West Liberty — Linsly grad averaged four points and three rebounds in a pair of losses over the last two games.

MONICA BRAGG, West Liberty — Madonna product scored four points and had four rebounds in a loss to Charleston. She cmae back with five points and two boards in a loss to Glenville.

EMILY HOLZOPFEL, Wheeling — Buckeye Local alumnus played in both of the last two Cardinals’ games, but failed to score.

KELSI CHAPMAN, Wheeling — Magnolia product averaged four points a game in limited minutes as the Cardinals toppled West Virginia State, but fell to Concord.

VIVIAN ALLISON, Mercyhurst — Linsly grad scored 3.5 points per game in a win over Clarion and a loss to Gannon.

TAYLOR DUPLAGA, Fairmont State — Wheeling Central alum scored at a 6.5 points per game clip as the Falcons fell to Concord and Notre Dame College.

LAUREN FLANNERY, Lake Erie — Freshman from River scored 12 points in a loss to Tiffin and posted four rebounds in a loss to Ohio Dominican.

ALLI DELANEY, Waynesburg — Union Local product scored 13 points in a loss to Washington & Jefferson.

KALLEE DOWLER, Westminster (Mo) — Barnesville alum had four points and a like number of steals in a win last week.

MEN’S BASKETBALL

CHASE HARLER, West Virginia — Wheeling Central grad scored five points in a loss at Oklahoma last weekend and had a 3-pointer in the loss to Kansas.

LOGAN ROUTT, West Virginia — Cameron alum had two points at Oklahoma and failed to score against the Jayhawks.

PRESTON BOSWELL, West Liberty — Magnolia grad elected to leave the West Liberty program.

PHIL BLEDSOE, Glenville — Wheeling Park grad had two points and four rebounds in a loss to West Liberty last Wednesday.

LUKAS ISALY, Marietta — River product scored five points in a win and four points and passed out five assists in a loss to Mount Union.

TRENTON TIPTON, Wooster — Union Local grad scored a career-high 21 points in a win over Denison on Wednesday. He had two points in a win over Ohio Wesleyan.

LUKE McDONOUGH, LaRoche — Bellaire alumn had seven points in a win over Fransican and seven more in a win over Penn State-Behrend. He also had 13 combined rebounds in the two games.

TREY SINGLETON, Muskingum — Meadowbrook grad returned to action and scored two points in a loss to Wilmington.

WRESTLING

TARIQ WILSON, N.C. State — Steubenville grad posted a 6-0 decision win over the nation’s number-10 ranked wrestler from North Carolina in a dual last week. Wilson is ranked 11th nationally.

CALEB REA, WVU — Weir High product picked up a 2-1, OT, decision in a dual against South Dakota State last week. Rea is 13-11 on the season and tied for the team lead in victories.

TRACK AND FIELD

COLE LAROCHE, Ashland — Freshman from Bellaire, competing unattached as he’s red shirting this season, won his first collegiate meet. He claimed the shot put of the ‘Blue Division’ at Akron last weekend with a mark of 52-0 1/2.

CHRISTIAN OBERDICK, West Liberty — St. Clairsville grad finished 10th overall in the 60M hurdles at a meet in Tiffin last weekend. He ran an 8.60.

ERICK SNELL, Tiffin — Cambridge product ran 60M hurdles at the Tiffin meet with a solid time of 8.12, but didn’t finish the finals.

BRAEDYN MIHALIC, Marietta — St. Clairsville grad competed in the 200 meter dash at the Tiffin Indoor meet.

ALLISON LOASE, Marietta — Union Local product pole vaulted in the Tiffin indoor meet and cleared 3.11 meters to finish 13th overall.

HANNAH KEMP, West Liberty — Union Local grad ran the 800 meters at Tiffin in 2:30.3, which is sixth in the MEC this winter.

BRITTANY FALCONE, West Liberty — Freshman from Bellaire posted a personal best in the weight throw at Tiffin with a mark of 10.95M.

SOFTBALL

ADRIAN SMITH, Akron — St. Clairsville product was 1-2 in three outings last weekend as the Zips opened their season. In the win, which came against Winthrop, Smith struck out three and walked the same number in a complete game.

BASEBALL

West Liberty opened its 2020 season with a three-game series at Carson-Newman in Tennessee. The Hilltoppers had no fewer than 11 former area players see action. Included were: Bailey McGrath (Bridgeport), Colton Coss (Linsly), Brian Campbell (Wheeling Central), Tyler Ramsay (Bellaire), Eric Banal (Buckeye Local), Kaden Blomquist (St. Clairsville), Isaac Rine (Wheeling Central), Hunter Westlake (Bellaire), Tyler Blomquist (St. Clairsville), Gaetan Sinisgalli (Barnesville), Justin Pennybacker (Brooke), Tyler Cooley (Wheeling Park).

Staskey can be reached via email at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com or at twitter.com/TLSportsSeth

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