Ridgway gradually pulled away with the help of small spurts throughout the game as the Elkers remained undefeated with a 61-38 victory over Port Allegany in boys basketball action Wednesday night at Ridgway Area High School.
The Gators (1-2) held with the Elkers (4-0) through the early section of the first quarter as the game was even at 9-all. Ridgway closed the opening quarter on a 6-0 run as a Tony Leithner basket was sandwiched in between two hoops from Eric Matheson.
Ridgway extended the lead to 10 at 19-9 early in the second quarter as Matheson scored on a transition play and Aaron Sorge added a 2-pointer. A 2-pointer from Nick Conway broke the run but Sorge answered with a hoop of his own. Ricky Bova added a basket to put the margin to 21-13 with 4:38 left in the half. The Elkers closed the half on a 11-4 run to take a 32-17 lead into halftime. Ridgway struggled from the outside in the first half, making just one trey.
"They had a matchup zone going, they did very well," Ridgway coach Anthony Allegretto said. "I don't know what we were from the first half from three, I think we were 0-for-7 until Jesse (Reynolds) hit the one at the end of the half. We haven't shot the ball real well early in the season. We need to get some baskets against the zone to get into the pressure and we weren't able to do it."
The Elkers put the clamps on the game with a dominating opening six minutes of the third quarter as Ridgway outscored Port Allegany 15-6. Sorge opened the third quarter with a trey and Matheson added another field goal. Port Allegany scored four points in a row but Matheson added four quick points to put the lead to 20 at 41-21.
"We got some energy points there with some easy layups, some big rebounds and we stretched that lead out to 20," Allegretto said. "They had to come out a little bit and play man which is what we want them to do. We didn't respond to that very well. That's where we have to break a team down."
Jordan Lundin and Jesse Reynolds added consecutive field goals and Alex Oknefski knocked in a pair of free throws as Ridgway held its biggest lead of the game at 47-21.
"We switched it up a little bit, trying to figure out what bothered them," Allegretto said. "They did a nice job of breaking it on most occasions. We never got that big run, we got those 6-point runs and they got a couple too. It was just a hard game to get in the flow of. The only thing we could do is get steals and make layups."
From there, the teams slowed it down as Ridgway had the game in hand. Luke Bobby and Kyle Kinkead each hit 3-pointers in the fourth quarter for the Elkers.
The offenses struggled for both sides in the opening portion of the game. Neither team scored for the first two minutes until a transition basket by Charlie Buchanan of the Gators broke that string. A Lundin free throw put the Elkers on the board and Josh Mitchell converted the front end of a 3-point play to put Ridgway ahead 3-2. Matt Bodamer hit a 3-pointer for the Gators to put Port Allegany ahead 5-3 but Mitchell answered with another basket to tie the game at 5-all with 3:39 left in the first quarter. The Gators also opened up the game by committing five team fouls in the first 4:21 of the game. Ridgway had none in that time period. Allegretto said Ridgway was forcing things too much on the offensive side.
"A lot of turnovers, we're trying to force stuff that's not there," Allegretto said. "Right now, that's our biggest problem. We're jumping in the air and passing to a guy that's not even there. It's really creating some problems and creating some runouts the other way, they're getting easy baskets off of it. In the halfcourt, teams are having trouble getting baskets against us but when we play a Johnsonburg or somebody like that, they can run their stuff, they got some good shooters. We were able to contain them in the halfcourt but we gave them dumb layups."
A Gator basket inched Port Allegany ahead 7-5 but two straight hoops by Lundin put Ridgway up 9-7. Beau Shively added a basket to tie the game at 9-all before Ridgway closed out the first quarter on a 6-0 run.
Ridgway will play next at the Elk County Holiday Basketball Tournament on Thursday held at St. Marys Area High School in semifinal action. More information on matchups and times will be announced at a later date. Allegretto said the team will be working on improving its shooting in the meantime.
In junior varsity action, Ridgway won 78-20.