JOHNSTOWN – Ridgway boys basketball wanted a test in a road environment in its final regular season game.
The Elkers got one in Bishop McCort and came out victorious.
Ridgway was able to win the last three minutes of a previously tied game and take a 55-50 win over Bishop McCort Tuesday night at Bishop McCort High School.
“That’s a tough team,” Ridgway coach Anthony Allegretto said. “The boys were really focused. That’s probably the best game we’ve put together this year. We didn’t start real well. I think we were a little intimidated. That’s kind of why we came down here. See another gymnasium, see a place we haven’t heard of against a good team on a long trip. Then to come away with a win and play the way we did, it was nice.”
The game was tied at 43 with three minutes left before Eric Matheson was able to put Ridgway ahead with a hoop at the 2:30 mark. Jerqual Wilson of the Crushers missed a shot at the other end. Matheson didn’t miss with 1:19 left as Ridgway took a 47-43 lead. Nemo Trexler answered with a 2-pointer of his own on the next possession for the Crushers. After a Ridgway missed free throw on the front end of a 1-and-1, Wilson missed a 3-pointer for Bishop McCort. Matheson then fed Jesse Reynolds for a layup which hung on the rim and fell for a 49-45 lead with 30 seconds left.
“That was a key play at that point in the game,” Allegretto said.
Matheson then added a steal and layup for a 6-point lead five seconds later. Matheson added two free throws and Billy Hipp converted a 3-pointer with four seconds left to pull within 53-50. Tony Leithner sank two free throws with under a second left to ice the game for the Elkers. Matheson led all scorers with 20 points and had eight in the fourth quarter.
“At the end of the game he was hitting some foul shots, handling the ball while they were running guys at him, slapping at him,” Allegretto said. “He handled the ball and hit some big foul shots.”
Ridgway started slowly as Bishop McCort broke out to a 9-2 lead. Wilson opened the game with a dribble drive to the basket and a 2-0 lead. Trexler and Aaron Sorge alternated field goals before Hipp added a hoop for a 6-2 lead with 4:02 left in the first quarter. Wilson then sank a trey from the corner to extend the lead to 9-2.
“I could see we weren’t shooting our normal shots, we were going in and saying these guys are bigger than us and they can jump a little bit,” Allegretto said. “They’re a very athletic team. We were kind of intimidated by the shot blocking capabilities instead of taking it at them. We changed some of our shots on our account.”
Lundin broke the Ridgway scoring woes with a three from the top of the key. Matheson then added a steal and layup to put the Elkers within two.
“After that, we felt pretty confident,” Allegretto said.
Wilson answered with a layup for the Crushers before Matheson added a mid-range jumper with one second left to close the first quarter with Bishop McCort ahead 11-9.
Ridgway outscored the Crushers by a 16-5 margin in the second quarter, swinging the momentum in the Elkers’ favor entering halftime.
A Matheson jumper and a Reynolds layup off a steal gave Ridgway its first lead of the game at 13-11. The Elkers began to use a full-court press more in the second quarter.
“Once the kids figured out a couple of things they couldn’t handle, we were getting some steals and some good deflections and turning them into points,” Allegretto said.
A Trexler hoop would tie the game but a Sorge basket put Ridgway back up by two. After a Bishop McCort free throw, Josh Mitchell scored four straight points to extend the lead to 19-14 halfway through the quarter. Matheson added another basket and a Mitchell 2-pointer on a fast break had the advantage to 23-14. Wilson missed the front end of a 1-and-1 before Mitchell added another basket for a 25-14 lead. Two free throws from Hipp would cut the halftime margin to 25-16.
Bishop McCort rallied in the third quarter to draw closer. Reynolds would open with a trey to put Ridgway up 12 at 28-16. After a Trexler field goal, Sorge buried a 3-pointer and Reynolds had another basket to put the Elkers up 15 at 33-18 with 5:43 left in the third quarter.
The Crushers would then score the next 13 points to draw within two. After a Crusher basket, Hipp added a basket and Wilson scored consecutive hoops to cut the margin to seven at 33-26. Trexler converted a 3-point play and Jordan Spangler added a basket with a transition basket to pull Bishop McCort within two at 33-31 at the 3-minute mark of the third quarter.
Sam Roselli quelled the Bishop McCort run with an offensive putback before Spangler answered with a trey of his own. Two straight baskets from Matheson extended the lead to five at 39-34 before a late hoop from Trexler had the Crushers within three at 39-36 entering the final eight minutes.
Wilson tied the game with a 3-point play at 39 and the Crushers took the lead on a Trexler field goal. A Mitchell basket tied the game at 41 with 5:36 left. Hipp missed two free throws for Bishop McCort then the teams alternated field goals to tie the game at 43.
Mitchell had 10 points while Sorge and Reynolds each finished with nine.
Wilson led Bishop McCort with 16 points. Trexler had 15 and Hipp finished with 14.
Ridgway is scheduled to host Elk County Catholic in the semifinals of the AML Playoffs this Friday at 7 p.m.
In junior varsity action, Bishop McCort won 48-38. The Ridgway junior varsity team finished the season with a 21-1 record.
NOTES: Ridgway had a good-size crowd who drove and rode down on a coach bus.