Ridgway Uses Strong Defense, Ball-Control Offense to Secure Second Straight D9 Boys 2A Title

CLARION, Pa. (D9Sports) – The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Ridgway used great defense and a ball-control offense to win its second straight District 9 Class 2A title with a 41-32 victory over Clarion, who was making its first appearance in a title game since 2003.

Relisten to the game:

“It feels fantastic to be part of a great program,” Ridgway sophomore Dan Park, who scored 12 points in the win, said. “Everybody counted us out, but we came back and stuck through the season. We came out victorious in the end.”

One of the keys to the win for the Elkers (19-7) was their ability to get out in front and stay in front.

Matt Dush scored five straight points in the final 1:07 of the first quarter to break a nine-all tie and give Ridgway a 14-9 lead heading to the second quarter, and then Park hit a 3-pointer to open the second-quarter scoring and give the Elkers a 17-9 lead.

That lead quickly grew to 21-12 three minutes into the second quarter.

“We love playing with the lead,” Park said. “It is Ridgway Elker basketball. We like to score, and we like to stop our opponents from scoring.”

Clarion was able to make a run at Ridgway at the end of the first half scoring the last eight points off the half thanks in part to four points from Hunter Craddock to get within one, 21-20, at halftime.

The game was still a two-point contest, 28-26, in favor of Ridgway following a Nick Frederick basket for Clarion (16-9) with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter.

But that turned out to be Clarion’s next-to-last field goal of the game and its last one until Cal German scored with 31.2 seconds to play to make it a 38-32 contest.

“Every person we put out on the court plays great defense,” Park said. “We like to stop the shooters, and as long as we put more points on the board than them we win in the end.”

Park said a big part of Ridgway’s ability to be strong with the basketball and play a physical style on defense comes from their strength and conditioning trainer, Scott Salberg.

“I want to credit Scott Salberg,” Park said. “He is a big reason we are able to contribute as younger players.”

Clarion head coach Scott Fox lamented the fact his team could get close but never quite take the lead.

“Things would have a been a little more different because then they would have been pressing,” Fox said. “Honestly, they are probably the favorite team going into the game. We’re not the favorite team, so if we could have gotten some extra pressure for them they might have started tightening up a little.”

Ironically, Clarion’s unselfish play may have cost it during the crucial third quarter when the Bobcats tried to make the extra pass instead of taking the shot, and Ridgway’s defense intercepted the passes.

“A lot of the offensive issues we caused ourselves,” Fox said. “We tried to make the extra pass, which wasn’t there. There were a couple of times we had layups, but we made the extra pass. Ridgway rotated, and, where throughout the season those passes have been there, they weren’t tonight.”

Dush led Ridgway with 14 points, nine coming in the first half, with Zack Zameroski chipping in eight, including six in the third quarter.

German led Clarion with 12 points with Frederick adding seven.

Both teams enter the PIAA playoffs.

Ridgway plays the WPIAL’s fourth-place finisher, Shenango, while Clarion faced WPIAL third-place finisher, Winchester Thurston. Both of those games will be Saturday, March 7, at a District 9 location.

RIDGWAY 41, CLARION 32

Score by Quarters

Clarion 9 11 7 5 – 32
Ridgway 14 7 11 9 – 41

CLARION – 32

Cal German 5 0-0 12, Beau Verdill 2 2-2 6, Christian Simko 0 0-0 0, Hunter Craddock 2 0-0 4, Josh Craig 0 1-2 1, Skylar Rhoades 1 0-0 2, Nick Frederick 3 1-2 7. Totals 13 4-6 32.

RIDGWAY – 41

Matt Dush 5 2-2 14, Domenic Allegretto 1 0-0 2, RJ Miller 1 1-2 3, Drew Young 0 0-0 0, Alex Bon 1 0-0 2, Zack Zameroski 4 0-1 8, Dan Park 4 3-4 12. Totals 16 6-9 41

Three-pointers: Clarion 2 (German 2). Ridgway 3 (Dush 2, Park).


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