The Ridgway boys basketball team was honored with a banquet Thursday night at The Royal Inn in Ridgway.
Ridgway varsity head coach Anthony Allegretto introduced the award winners. Eric Matheson was the recipient of the Frank Clark Award for the third time. Matheson wears “FC” on the back of his shoes for Clark.
“The award goes to a person that has the same vision and love of basketball,” Allegretto said. “Eric’s motivation for playing basketball is from Frank Clark.”
Matheson was named as the Most Outstanding Offensive Player.
“Some people never get to coach a kid like that,” Allegretto said. “I’m very glad that I had the opportunity. A lot of guys can dribble and shoot, there’s never been a guy that’s been a leader like him. They all want to be there, that’s what makes them such a good team.”
Aaron Sorge was named as the Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Sorge was put in during a game against Elk County Catholic during Sorge’s sophomore year and Allegretto said the Elkers never looked back.
“We never took him out after that,” Allegretto said. “We saw what he could do defensively and he could shoot. Defensively, he’s got to be one of the best on-ball defenders in the state.”
Jordan Lundin and Matheson were co-winners of the Herbie Lenze Award. The late Lenze left money for the program which was used to buy video equipment for the team in all aspects of the program. Allegretto spoke of Lundin’s talents and smarts.
“One of the smartest players I’ve ever coached,” Allegretto said. “He wants to win. He did all the little things, he guarded, he rebounded, he knows how to work the baseline.”
Alex Oknefski was the scholar-athlete award winner. Kyle Kinkead was the Coach’s Award recipient. Kinkead has the distinction of scoring the team’s final points of the season, a 3-pointer in the state semifinal against Lincoln Park.
“He does the running, the conditioning, the weight-lifting,” Allegretto said. “The kids love him, he’s part of the team.”
Allegretto spoke of the team’s accomplishments and highlights.
“A 29-2 record, that’s pretty unbelievable,“ Allegretto said. “We had to keep reminding ourselves on the bus rides home of our record. Our best ever record, probably never approached again. There were many times in that gym and at the Clarion floor where we looked up and saw all that maroon. With each game, that maroon wave just got bigger and bigger. We appreciated it. It’s been a long road. We had three seasons where we won eight games. It’s not taken for granted when we win 29 or 21 in two years, 64 in three years. That’s quite an accomplishment you guys have, that’s wonderful. Never once did you guys say you were satisfied. I was worried about that. I talked to them about it for three days after we won the district title.
“We had Eric scoring 1,000 points the first game of the season. We won the Elk County Tournament, we won 18 games in a row. We followed that with 11 wins in a row,” Allegretto said. “We beat Sheffield to earn our PIAA spot. At halftime of the Sheffield game, besides the DCC loss, that was the worst feeling I had. I’ve never had another horrible feeling except coming out of that locker room during the Sheffield game while we were winning by three points. It was the most nervous I’ve been about anything. I don’t usually get nervous, I get antsy.”
Allegretto spoke about the focus of the team.
“The focus they have is unbelievable,” Allegretto said. “We were all about what needed to be done that day. When that was done, we were about what needed to be done the next day. The seniors were great at keeping everybody focused. This was something very special.”
Assistant coach Denny Posteraro sent a letter to the team expressing his thoughts on the season. He spoke about “Family, Integrity, Excellence.”
“It has been 15 days since our last game and I have been thinking of images I observed after the game,” Allegretto said when reading Posteraro‘s letter. “We thought if we could get the team to compete at the highest level, we would be successful. We instituted beyond the absolute limit and 212 degrees. The goal is to compete at the highest level, break through it and compete at a level you thought you couldn’t achieve. We had players that gave everything but we never had a team that competed at this level. In 40 years of coaching, I’ve never been involved with a group from Eric (Matheson) to Kinky (Kyle Kinkead) that competed with the intensity of this group.
Pick up a copy of the Saturday, April 7, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.