Eric Matheson eclipsed 1,000 career points and the game ended in a victory.
A perfect night for Ridgway boys basketball.
Ridgway used a suffocating full-court press and a long third-quarter run as Ridgway won 74-53 over Smethport Tuesday night at Ridgway Area High School.
From the attention given to the Elker senior point guard after the game, there was little doubt whose night this was.
Matheson scored the milestone just over a minute into the fourth quarter on a transition basket. He drove to his right and put the ball off the glass and in to push his total to 1,001 points. He had needed 12 points coming into the game to surpass the 1,000-point mark.
"It feels great, especially on a win," Matheson said. "If this would have happened on a loss, it wouldn't have been the same. It feels good to finally get it out of the way."
Ridgway head coach Anthony Allegretto expressed his appreciation.
"Congratulations to Eric, he deserves it," Allegretto said. "What a great kid. He's worked for it. It's a special honor. I think he's the seventh or eighth player to do it."
Matheson opened with a 2-point basket with around 3:45 left in the first quarter to crack the scoresheet. He had another hoop with two minutes left to finish with four points in the opening quarter.
A trey in the second quarter pushed Matheson's point total to seven. Matheson said after the game that the milestone was in his thoughts.
"I can't say I wasn't thinking about it," Matheson said. "The first half, we didn't play well and I stopped thinking about it because I just wanted to win the game. The second half, we turned it around and I got it."
He added a field goal in the third quarter to get to nine points and two free throws late in the third quarter to get within one of the milestone.
"The crowd started getting louder, every time I would score, they would scream. It starts to get in your head and you start thinking about it," Matheson said.
Matheson finished with 15 points.
"I just take what the defense gives me," Matheson said. "I don't need to score 20 points for us to win. If I'm dishing the ball and the players are making it, that's fine with me."
Smethport gave Ridgway a run for its money for the first half and into the third quarter. With Ridgway holding a 33-29 lead at halftime, Smethport opened the second half on a 6-0 run to take a 35-33 lead which prompted a Ridgway timeout with 6:40 left in the second half. Smethport's offense then dried up and went five-and-a-half minutes without adding to its point total. Allegretto said Ridgway's full-court press began to wear down Smethport as the Elkers scored 18 consecutive points to take a 51-35 lead. That run essentially put the game away as Ridgway would extend the lead to 25 points in the middle of the fourth quarter to cruise to a 21-point victory.
"That's a tough team. We were down early in the third quarter and then we put a spurt on them with turnovers," Allegretto said. "We turned it into a 15-point lead quickly. We did force them out a little bit and once they have to come out on us, they get in trouble. Their size gave us problems. They had some real good flares with Lord and Smith. We're happy to come out of there with a win."
Allegretto said the pressure eventually made Smethport lose its offensive rhythm.
"We started figuring out where they were going with it," Allegretto said. "We were picking off passes. We stopped gambling so much and played straightup with the traps, that really helped us out."
In the first four minutes, Ridgway opened the game on a 12-4 run and grew the lead to nine at 18-9 to close the first quarter as Alex Oknefski put in a second-chance opportunity. Kevin Lord of Smethport opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer as the Hubbers moved within six at 18-12. Smethport was within a pair of points on two separate occasions at 22-18 and 24-22. Ridgway then had an 8-0 run to create a 10-point cushion as Jordan Lundin poured in a trey, Oknefski added an inside field goal and Matheson had a 3-pointer. Smethport was able to close the half on a 5-2 spurt as Zach Smith nailed a 3-pointer with seven seconds left to close the Ridgway lead to 33-29 at the half.
"The first half, we weren't stopping the ball, we let them have tons of runouts," Matheson said. "The second half, we stopped the ball, got some easy traps and easy layups."
Ridgway (1-0) hosts Curwensville on Friday night. Junior varsity action is set for 6 p.m.
"It's nice to get the first game out of the way," Allegretto said. "We know we're OK. We know we have some things to fix but we got some people in the game that haven't really been in the game during crunch time."
In junior varsity action, Ridgway won 55-15.
Smethport 10 19 8 16 - 53
Ridgway 18 15 18 21 - 74
Smethport – 53
Zach Smith- 6 7-7 20, Kevin Lord 4 4-5 13, Nick Duffy 3 3-3 9, Clay Schuler 3 2-4 8, Dylan Mott 1 1-1 3.
Ridgway – 74
Jordan Lundin 5 6-6 17, Eric Matheson 6 2-2 15, Josh Mitchell 5 1-2 12, Aaron Sorge 3 0-2 6, Alex Oknefski 2 4-6 8, Jesse Reynolds 3 0-0 7, Tony Leithner 1 1-1 3, Robbie Byrd 1 0-0 2, Keith Zawatski 1 0-0 2. Joe Jaques 1 0-0 2. Ridgway 28 14-19 74.
3-pointers: Smethport 2 (Smith, Lord), Ridgway 4 (Matheson, Mitchell, Lundin, Reynolds.)