Two years ago, when Anthony Pizzuti was a sophomore at Lyndhurst, the idea of him scoring 1,000 points was one that even he admits was impossible to believe.
“I didn’t even think I was hitting it,” Pizzuti said. “If you tell me sophomore year that I’m going to hit a thousand, I would’ve laughed in your face. I didn’t think I would ever hit a thousand in my life.”
What once seemed impossible became reality on Wednesday night when, at Hasbrouck Heights, Pizzuti became the first boys basketball player at Lyndhurst in 37 years to score 1,000 career points.
Even though the Golden Bears were on the road, Pizzuti did it In front of several friends and family members, including his grandparents Richard and Rose. On the night, Pizzuti finished with 44 points, the second-highest game of his career.
“They live down the shore. They’re old though so they don’t really come up to many games so I was happy seeing them ,” said Pizzuti “It was great that I got to see them, I got to hug them and they were happy. My grandpa was crying. It was a good night.
“Everyone was asking me if I should go to the game. I was like, you should go, but I really don’t think I’m going to hit (1,000 points) tonight. It’s going to be hard. Thirty-three points is a lot, so I was like ‘I’ll see what I could do.”
Pizzuti said he didn’t feel like he was at 100-percent heading into the game, but once the adrenaline got going, he was his usual dominant self, opening the game with back-to-back dunks.
“His first two buckets were dunks, so I knew something was up. He was ready to go,” head coach Perrin Mosca said. “I think he had it in his head. He wanted to hit it that night and it was just a great night for him. He was just unstoppable.”
With the milestone just a basket away in the third quarter, Pizzuti missed a pair of 3-point attempts, before reaching the mark on a drive to the basket. With it, he became the first Lyndhurst player to do it since Scott Ryder.
“I wanted to hit it on a 3-point shot so I tried, missed two 3-pointers,” Pizzuti said. “I was like alright, so I took an iso, I went one-on-one with the defender, drove to the basket and scored.”
“Last year, he had all those points and we’re like ‘oh, he’s very close to a thousand,’” said Mosca. “Then you start looking at the record and that’s crazy. It’s really amazing because they’ve had some good teams throughout the years. For no one to reach a thousand is pretty crazy.”
Thursday was the third time Pizzuti eclipsed the 30-point mark this season. The 6-foot-4 senior is currently averaging 24.8 points per game for the 11-2 Golden Bears, good for seventh in the state.
“He was good last year, but now he’s just on another level this year,” said Mosca. “It’s amazing how much he’s improved in these last couple of years.”
The improvement is all the more remarkable knowing that he did while juggling baseball and, this past fall, football as well.
As a sophomore, Pizzuti was a 6-foot-1 reserve and was thinking about giving up basketball entirely. It wasn’t until Mosca was hired to be the boys coach after a stint on the girls side that he decided for sure to come back.
With his confidence restored and a two-three inch growth spurt, Pizzuti enjoyed a breakout junior year, averaging 20.8 points per game, highlighted by a school record 53 in a game against Kearny.
“Going into my junior basketball season, I was not going to play basketball anymore. I was going to stop playing, Pizzuti said. “Then, when I heard Coach Mosca got the job, I was like I’ll try it, see how it goes. He helped me a lot my last two years and it just made me love it again.
“My sophomore year, I really had no confidence. I lost it all. I just wasn’t playing. I didn’t really enjoy it. Definitely my junior year I gained a lot more confidence again and I just felt like myself when I was younger.”
With more than half the season still remaining, Lyndhurst and Pizzuti have more big goals in sight. As a team, they are poised to once again earn a spot in the Bergen County Jamboree and make it a deep run in North 2, Group 2 state sectional tournament.
Individually, Ryder’s career scoring record of 1,212 points is well within reach.
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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer
Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (nj.com, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)