Ortman scores 1,000th point, Norway edges Rapid River

Norway's Connor Ortman hugs his father Steve after scoring his 1,000th career point Thursday in the second quarter. (Burt Angeli/The Daily News)

NORWAY — Connor Ortman reached a scoring milestone and Norway staved off Rapid River 58-56 in Skyline Central Conference boys basketball Thursday.

Ortman scored his 1,000th career point Thursday, hitting a three-pointer in the first minute of the second quarter. The game was stopped to recognize the moment and a roaring student section held up “1000” signs.

“I’m pretty proud of Connor,” said Norway head coach Jeff Gallino. “That’s a pretty incredible feat. We don’t have too many of those in Norway.”

According to Norway historian Matt McCarthy, Ortman is the first Norway boy since Tony Mortier in the 1989-90 season to reach 1,000 points. Two other Knights boys, brothers Al and Dave Kimichik, also achieved the mark.

Ortman, a three-year varsity player, entered the game needing 12 for the milestone. The 6-foot-4 senior finished with a game-high 24 points along with 13 rebounds.

“We were hoping to keep to him from a thousand tonight but it didn’t take long for him to get his 12,” said Rockets coach Rich Poma, who has also watched Ortman play AAU basketball. “That’s a special accomplishment by a great player. He’s an awesome all-around kid.”

The Knights (12-8, 6-5) held a 56-51 lead with five minutes left in the game. Then for nearly four minutes, neither team scored until RR’s Lucas Sundling converted three free throws with 1:34 remaining

A Josh Plante free throw with 1:09 showing bumped Norway’s advantage to 57-54. Rockets’ Tony DeMars answered with a bucket at the 36-second mark.

Plante foiled a two-on-one RR fast break and drew a foul on the play with 16 seconds left. A free throw put the Knights ahead 58-56.

Norway also stopped Rapid’s last-ditch scoring effort.

“We’ve got some momentum going in now,” Gallino said of the postseason. “We had a tough one up in Munising but we were able to put this one away. I’m really proud of the kids.”

The Knights were coming off a 54-53 loss to Munising on Tuesday.

Norway’s Adam Faull added 12 points and Plante had 11 points with six assists.

Rockets’ Lucas Sundling scored 15 of his team-high 20 points in the first half. Cameron Willemson added 18 points and Logan Hardwick had 11 points with 12 rebounds.

“Rapid River is a solid group,” Gallino said. “This Sundling kid had five threes in the first half. It’s tough to cover him.”

Gallino noted that Ortman switched to Willemson and Plante had Sundling for the Rockets’ final possession.

“They’re a great team and solid all the way around with their guard play and their bigs down,” Poma said. “They have a great defense. Our spacing was a little bit off tonight. I didn’t think we moved the ball as well as we usually do.”

Rapid River (17-3, 9-2), small-school champion of the conference, will meet Munising or Superior Central in the first round of Class D district play.

“They kept it close, they kept it within reach and we had a shot to win at the end,” Poma said. “Even with the loss it gives us a good head of steam going into district.”

Norway visits rival Iron Mountain on Wednesday to start Class C District 94. The Knights will practice on the Mountaineers’ floor Sunday.

“We’re going to be ready and looking forward to it,” Gallino said.

Rapid River edged Norway 49-48 in the junior varsity game.

Rapid River 17 12 15 12 — 56

Norway 20 14 14 10 — 58

RAPID RIVER (56): Sundling 20, Olson 2, T. Sundling 3, Hardwick 11, Willemson 18, DeMars 2. FT: 11-14. F: 12. 3PT: L. Sundling 5. FG: 20-51. Rebounds: 24 (Hardwick 12).

NORWAY: Wilson 6, Plante 10, Faull 12, Boulden 2, Hendricks 4, Ortman 24. FT: 6-12. F: 11. 3PT: Plante, Faull 2, Ortman 2. FG: 23-50. Rebounds: 28 (Ortman 13).