BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The night Ritchie Campbell set the all-time scoring record in section six, was memorable for many reasons.
“My mom was at the game and that was the first time she came to see my play in high school,” Campbell said. “I gave her the game ball.”
That was 27-years ago. Since then, the feat of 2,355 career points hasn’t been touched.
“The competition was tough you had a lot of people that was competing, a lot of good guard play and big men play,” Campbell added. “The game was tough. I had a unique sense of basketball I had a real good feel for it.”
DOM WELCH CHASES RECORD
Cheektowaga’s Dom Welch may not have been alive in 1990, but he is well aware of the all-time record. And, for the first time since the 2012 season, Campbell’s record is being threatened.
“It feels great with all the good players that have played around here, being compared to those guys,” the Cheektowaga senior said. “I want to go down as the greatest player to ever play here.”
“It will be great, 27 years is a long time,” Campbell added. “Records are meant to be broken and I will feel happy for the kid.”
CAMPBELL’S STRUGGLES ON THE EAST SIDE
But, that’s where the similarities between these two change. If anyone can reflect on how long 27-years is, it’s Campbell.
After one of the greatest high school careers in section six history, and a short stint at a Texas junior college, Campbell’s slipped into a life temptation and violence on the east side of Buffalo. After previous troubles with the law, he began a 17-year prison sentence for manslaughter charges at 22-years old. His college and professional basketball hopes diminished.
He often thinks about what could have been.
“I think about that a lot of times. I think about Bobby Hurley who is coaching and I played against when I was younger. These guys played ball like me and used that vehicle to better their lives and sometimes when I look back at the pitfalls and the bad decisions that I made it troubles me sometimes. Right now it is like I can’t change the past, I have to move forward right now.”
CAMPBELL AND WELCH LEAVE THEIR MARK
Campbell is doing just that — moving forward. and striving to make the most of his life since being released.
Of course, that includes basketball.
“I am on a journey of redemption, giving back,” said Campbell who is now an assistant coach for the Health Sciences boys basketball team. “Basketball has always given me a clear sense of purpose and I hope to stay in that field and work with kids and give back.”
In addition to an assistant coaching job, he still keeps a close eye on local high school basketball, including the kid who may take his spot in the history books.
“I make it a point that I want to see him play, and go out and see this kid who is close to breaking my record.”
“I didn’t know he was there on a night I scored 40 points,” Welch remarked. “They always say you never know who is watching in the crowd, it was a good feeling.”
While 2,355 points is a number on both of their minds, two of the greatest high school players in Buffalo history say that isn’t what’s most important.
“I want them to remember that he was an easy going and he gave back and he redeemed himself and gave back.” Campbell said.
“I just want to go out as the biggest leader to ever play around here the best teammate to every play around here and ever play at Cheektowaga and hope my records last for a long time even though they should be broken,” Welch said with a smile. “I want to be remembered in a good way on and off the court.”
As of this writing Welch needs to score 202 points the break the all-time scoring record. The Warriors have four regular season games remaining before the playoffs.