D9-AA champions celebrate after win

Photo by Becky Polaski — Members of the Ridgway Elkers celebrate with the District 9 Class AA plaque after defeating the Coudersport Falcons 52-50 in the D9-AA title game on Thursday evening at St. Marys Area High School.
Becky Polaski
Staff Writer

ST. MARYS — It would be hard to script a more exciting contest to decide this year’s District 9 Class AA boys basketball champions.
Thursday night’s matchup at St. Marys Area High School between the top seeded Coudersport Falcons and second seeded Ridgway Elkers was back and forth the entire way, and with under a minute to go the score was tied at 50-all. A bucket by Zack Zameroski gave the Elkers the lead with 4.4 seconds to go. Following a timeout, a long shot by the Falcons missed its mark, and the crowd erupted as the buzzer sounded and Ridgway claimed the 52-50 victory.
“We knew how good Coudy was, and we were fortunate at the end to make the play and stay on top. But that game could have gone either way. The one we played up there could have went either way,” said Ridgway head coach Anthony Allegretto.
As for the play that secured the victory for the Elkers, Allegretto explained that with the way the Falcons play defense it is tough for opposing teams to run sets.
“What we worked on all week was getting the ball to the foul line either by the dribble, the pass, and coming off a screen and attacking, and Daunte (Allegretto) attacked that one. We knew there was going to be, and we practiced that bounce pass, and Zack (Zameroski) was able to get the ball fake and score,” Allegretto said. “When we played them up there (in Coudersport), we had several times we didn’t score on that play.”
The victory also avenged the Elkers’ loss to the Falcons in last year’s D9-AA title game. Ridgway entered that contest as the top seed with Coudersport as the number two, but it was the Falcons who prevailed 66-46.
“They [Coudersport] beat us pretty bad last year in the D9 championship. They beat us by 20. They could have beat us by 30. For us to come back this year and come back and get it, I’m very proud of them,” Allegretto said of his squad.
Coudersport’s Owen Chambers led all scorers with 24 points, while Hayden Keck and Travis Gleason also put up double figures for the Falcons with 10 points each.
Daunte Allegretto led the Elkers with 14 points, while Parker Rohr was two back with 12.
The first quarter was relatively low scoring.
Keck opened the scoring with a bucket for the Falcons just over two minutes into the game, but Ridgway answered right back with a six-point run on as Will Thompson put the team on the board with a field goal, Allegretto made a pair of foul shots and then Matt Dush added a bucket to make it 6-2 with 2:18 left in the quarter. After that, Chambers and Rohr traded twos before a three by Chambers with 1:15 to go made it a one-point game, 8-7. Allegretto and Gleason each made a pair of foul shots in the final 30 seconds of the quarter, leaving Ridgway with a slim 10-9 lead after the first eight minutes of play.
A two by Gleason and a three by Derek Easton gave the Falcons back the lead, 14-10, with 6:46 remaining in the half, but Ridgway answered right back with buckets by Dush and Zameroski to tie the game at 14-all with 5:38 left in the half.
A three-point play by Chambers and a field goal by Keck allowed Coudersport to pull back ahead 19-14, but once again the Elkers battled right back with a six-point run on a bucket by Zameroski and two by Dush to pull back in front 20-19.
Daniel Frame hit a three for Coudersport with 2:46 left in the half, but another field goal by Zameroski 16 second later tied the score at 22-all.
A six-point run in the span of about 1:10 saw the Falcons go up 28-22 late in the quarter, but Rohr made a bucket right before the buzzer to send the game into the break with Coudersport leading by four, 28-24.
Back-and-forth scoring opened the second half as Rohr and Thompson each traded buckets with Chambers. With 4:34 left in the quarter, Allegretto made a field goal to bring Ridgway back within two, 32-30, and then seconds later he was sent to the foul line as the Falcon’s Kolby VanWhy was assessed a technical foul. Allegretto missed the first shot but made the second, cutting Coudersport’s lead to 32-31.
Chambers and Jake Reynolds traded field goals, but a seven-point run by the Falcons gave them a 41-33 lead with 1:39 left in the quarter. Zameroski and Gleason traded twos and then a field goal by Rohr with 13 seconds to go made it a six-point game, 43-37, headed into the fourth quarter.
Ridgway kept the rally going and kept the Falcons from scoring again until there was only 3:20 left in the game. During that same span, the Elkers put seven points on the board themselves on a two by Rohr and a three and a pair of foul shots by Allegretto to retake the lead 44-43.
A two by Gleason was answered with a three by Reynolds, but then Chambers hit a three for the Falcons with 1:44 to go to give them back the lead 48-47.
Rohr made a pair of foul shots to put Ridgway back up by one, 49-48, with 1:23 to go. With a minute remaining, Allegretto was sent to the line shooting one-and-one but came up empty. However, Zameroski was able to get the rebound and was immediately fouled. He went one-for-two, putting the Elkers up by two, 50-48, with 59.6 seconds to go.
A bucket by Keck with 51.2 seconds left tied the score for the final time at 50-all. After that, the Elkers patiently ran the clock down while setting up what would be the winning play as Zameroski’s bucket gave them the lead for good, 52-50, with 4.4 seconds remaining.
As this year’s District 9 Class AA champion, Ridgway will face the fourth seed from District 7 in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs on Saturday, March 9 at a site and time to be announced. As the District 9-AA runner-up, Coudersport will take on the third seed from District 7, also at a site and time to be announced.