CLARION – With a fourth-quarter rally, Ridgway now plays to be called best in the West.
Ridgway (29-1) rallied from seven points down for a 58-51 victory over VisionQuest in the PIAA Class A boys basketball quarterfinal at Clarion University Friday night.
Ridgway now plays in the Western Final and state semifinal against Lincoln Park Charter on Tuesday night. Lincoln Park downed West Middlesex, 47-45, Friday night. The time and site have yet to be announced.
"We've constantly said if you make it out of (Class) A, especially if you get that one seed and get that right draw, you got a good shot at doing some stuff, winning a couple games, maybe running it out, getting the breaks and winning three," Ridgway coach Anthony Allegretto said. "We knew when we played the (District 9) championship game against Johnsonburg, if you lose that game, you go up with West Middlesex and Lincoln Park. Down below wasn't going to be easy but it was going to be easier than that. We know we got a tough district and a tough league in single A. We're just here representing the publics against the charters now."
VisionQuest took a 45-38 lead after a basket from Kimon Roberson in the early stages of the fourth quarter for a 7-point lead. Jordan Lundin answered on the next Ridgway possession with a hoop of his own. After a Roberson free throw, Ridgway scored the next eight points to take the lead for good. Sam Roselli opened the run with a bucket and Eric Matheson added one of his own to cut the margin to two. Two Matheson free throws would then tie the game and two free throws from Roselli had Ridgway up 48-46 with 4:46 left.
"The free throws that Sam made put us ahead," Allegretto said. "He hasn't had a whole lot of big free throws down the stretch for us and those two were big."
Roberson would make 1-of-2 from the free throw line before Lundin would score on a layup off a dish from Matheson. Lundin finished with 12 points while Matheson matched his uniform number as he tallied 21 points.
"We started picking up our defense and they were forcing some shots," Allegretto said. "It really helped us and we rebounded. They didn't get any second chances going down the stretch, that was big. We were able to get some runouts and some nice passes and some nice takes. He's a great leader and he's done a great job for four years, being a leader."
Jesse Reynolds added a basket with 2:48 left to extend the Ridgway lead to five. Roberson would score again for VisionQuest with two minutes left to cut the margin to three but Matheson answered immediately in transition for Ridgway with a layup. VisionQuest would miss a 3-pointer on its next possession but the Elkers turned the ball over and Nasir Mitchell would put VisionQuest within three at 54-51 with 20 seconds left. Unscathed, Reynolds would sink two free throws from the line to seal the deal and send Ridgway among the state's Final Four. Ridgway was 17-for-18 from the free throw line while VisionQuest finished 3-for-5.
"When we shoot free throws down the stretch, we usually have it in Jordan, Jesse or Eric's hands," Allegretto said. "The three of them are around 80 percent together. We want to make more free throws than they're shooting. That sounds pretty good, I'll take 17-for-18."
Allegretto said the defense did a nice job of forcing VisionQuest to shoot mostly from the perimeter.
"We were going to make them force shots, we were hoping they would miss more than they did," Allegretto said. "Down the stretch, I thought we did a great job on the boards, Jordan (Lundin), Jesse (Reynolds), Sam Roselli, Okie (Alex Oknefski) when he was in there, Josh Mitchell."
VisionQuest got off to a hot start and had a 7-1 lead in the early going after two jumpers from Mitchell and a trey from Khalief Goldwire. Aaron Sorge would stop the VisionQuest run along with a Matheson trey. Goldwire then drained two straight treys and then added a 2-pointer for good measure to put VisionQuest ahead 15-6. Goldwire finished with 20 points in the first half but only had four in the second 16 minutes.
"We watched him on film and everything says that he's a 41 percent 3-point shooter," Allegretto said. "We watched him on film and didn't believe it. We were running away from him to pinch the gaps. The second half, we said quit running from him, stay with him. We face-guarded him in a couple situations. Jesse was on him most of the time in the second half and he did a better job than what I told anybody to do in the first half."
Mitchell and Lundin added baskets in between a VisionQuest hoop as Ridgway trailed 17-10. Lundin and Goldwire each scored four points in the first two minutes of the second half before successive treys from Reynolds and Matheson had the Elkers suddenly within one at 21-20 near the 5-minute mark. Two straight hoops from Matheson and a basket from Lundin capped a 12-0 run for Ridgway before a Goldwire trey put VisionQuest within two. An up-and-under move by Matheson was countered by a trey from Nasir Mitchell and another one from Goldwire to put VisionQuest ahead 30-28. Two free throws from Oknefski tied the game at 30 and a hoop from Roselli had the Elkers going into the locker room ahead 32-30.
Josh Mitchell would open the second half for the Elkers with a hoop before a Roberson basket and a trey from Goldwire banked in off glass. VisionQuest then went on an 8-0 run, capped by a Goldwire field goal.
"The third quarter, again we had another rough one," Allegretto said. "I thought we had some good opportunities. I thought the referees put their whistles away a little bit. At first, I was kind of angry with that. By the end of the game, I was happy they didn't blow the whistles on those calls."
Two free throws from Reynolds put Ridgway within five at the 1:08 mark of the quarter and set up the fourth quarter.
"They got the lead in the third and Sam Roselli made a couple of plays to get our energy back, got our crowd going again," Allegretto said. "Once that happened, Eric got going again. They started pressing us and we got some easy shots at the other end."
Ridgway has played at Clarion University for its last five games and Allegretto said the crowd support was great for the Elkers.
"It looked like half of Ridgway was here," Allegretto said. "A lot of people here from District 9, I saw some coaches around the league, around the district. We've been down here before representing other people."
Ridgway 10 22 6 20 - 58
VisionQuest 17 13 13 8 - 51
Ridgway – 58
Eric Matheson 6 7-8 21, Jordan Lundin 5 2-2 12, Jesse Reynolds 2 4-4 9, Josh Mitchell 3 0-0 6, Sam Roselli 2 2-2 6, Alex Oknefski 0 2-2 2, Aaron Sorge 1 0-0 2, Totals 19 17-18 58.
VisionQuest – 51
Khalief Gibbons 10 1-1 24, Nasir Mitchell 6 0-0 14, Kimon Roberson 4 2-4 10, Derrick Rollins 1 0-0 3, Totals 21 3-5 51.
3-pointers: Ridgway 3 (Matheson 2, Reynolds), VisionQuest 6 (Goldwire 3, Mitchell 2, Rollins).