Ridgway boys basketball has its victory to start the season over Elk County Catholic.
The Elkers led throughout in a close 50-47 victory over the Crusaders Friday night in front of a capacity crowd at Ridgway Area High School.
Ridgway coach Anthony Allegretto said the team came into Friday's game with an expectation for victory.
"We didn't come here to lose," Allegretto said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game, we knew it could come down to a play or two. We were able to build a bit of a lead in the first half. We knew they were going to make a run, they made some shots. We came up with some big rebounds at the end. We let them hang around a little too much at the end with some missed foul shots. People stepped up and we did enough to get the win, it's the first game of the season, we got a long way to go."
The Elkers started strong and had a 7-0 lead after three minutes. Jordan Lundin opened with a field goal, then Eric Matheson added a free throw and a field goal before Josh Mitchell also added a field goal. Allegretto felt the strong start was important.
"Mentally because of some of the stuff that's happened to us in the past with playing Elk Catholic. Last year in the playoffs, we fell behind 9-0," Allegretto said. "When we built that lead, all of the sudden two minutes into the game, the players say 'OK, there's no more doubt in my mind, I can play with them.' Once the doubt's out of your mind, then you just go play basketball. It was two good teams going at it and you knew coach (Aaron) Straub was going to find some things, he did, they hit some big shots. We gathered ourselves and hung on."
The Crusaders finished the first quarter on a 6-2 run as Darren Simons knocked in a corner 3-pointer with one second left. Tyler Herzing had a free throw and Eric Wehler scored a 2-point field goal for the Crusaders in the first quarter.
A three-point lead turned to 12 in the first 2:15 of the second quarter, the 9-0 run capped by a 3-pointer from Jesse Reynolds. Lundin opened the quarter with a 3-pointer, Matheson followed with three points, then Reynolds hit the three.
"Guys working hard, setting good screens, we got some guys that know how to play basketball, it's more about playing basketball than coaching and coming up with some great formula," Allegretto said.
The Crusaders and Elkers played evenly throughout the remainder of the first half as Ridgway took a 27-17 lead into halftime.
"Rebounding is always a key for us and turnovers, I don't know how many turnovers we had," Allegretto said. "If we can control our turnovers, we're going to be a really tough team. I think we did a really good job, we got a lot of leaders out there on the court and are very unselfish basketball players. I had eight guys who played their hearts out, everybody did good things. We overcome any mistakes we made, it was nice to watch, it was fun for the fans, it was nice to see the support."
Two free throws from Matheson early in the third quarter built the lead to 31-18. Elk County Catholic began to make its comeback after that point as Ben Daghir scored five straight points before Lundin hit a 3-pointer for Ridgway to make the margin 34-23. ECC then tallied the next 10 points to draw within one at 34-33 with 3:24 left in the third quarter. Herzing added a 2-pointer as did Luke Daghir. Ben Daghir poured in a 3-pointer as did Wehler during the 10-0 stretch. A 3-pointer from Reynolds broke the run for the Elkers. Ridgway led 39-36 after three quarters.
Ridgway had a 7-1 run to start the fourth quarter and led 46-40 after Dom Aiello nailed a short jump shot. Luke Daghir added a free throw as did Aiello for the Elkers. Simons added a jumper with 1:45 remaining to make the score 47-43.
Ridgway turned the ball over on a double dribble and Ben Daghir nailed a field goal to cut the lead to one. Reynolds made one free throw with 56 seconds remaining to take the lead to three. The Crusaders missed a 3-pointers on the ensuing possession and Matheson made one from the charity stripe to make the lead 49-45 with 37 seconds left.
Luke Daghir made two from the line, then Matheson made one to take a 50-47 lead with 17 seconds left. Elk County Catholic had a chance to tie the game but a last-ditch effort for three was missed to give the Elkers the victory.
"Mentally, it's very important. That game that we blew last year at the end where we missed the foul shots and the rebounds at the end, when we blew that game, I said the importance of that game was getting over that mental hurdle," Allegretto said. "Now we're over the mental hurdle, let's play basketball, better team wins. You got two really evenly matched teams. The better team that night is going to win."
Matheson led the Elkers with 18 points. Ben Daghir had 11 points to lead the Crusaders. Overall, Allegretto said Ridgway did a good job breaking the press and then attacking the rim.
"The press bothered us a little bit, then we started getting some things we wanted out of it," Allegretto said. "When we did break it, we attacked. Last year, we had a problem where we would break the press and not attack. The kids have stepped up in that respect."
Ridgway last defeated the Crusaders 57-55 in the 2002-2003 season.
Ridgway is at Smethport Wednesday. Elk County Catholic hosts Johnsonburg on Tuesday.
Elk County Catholic 47
Ben Daghir 4 1-2 11, Darren Simons 3 2-3 10, Tyler Herzing 3 3-7 9, Luke Daghir 2 3-4 8, Eric Wehler 3 0-1 7, Ricky Pearsall 0 1-2 1, Ben Wortman 0 1-2 1, Totals 15 11-21 47.
Eric Matheson 4 10-14 18, Jordan Lundin 3 1-2 8, Jesse Reynolds 2 1-2 7, Josh Mitchell 2 0-0 5, Aaron Sorge 2 0-0 5, Dom Aiello 1 1-2 3, Ben Jaques 1 0-0 2, Alex Oknefski 1 0-1 2, Totals 16 13-21 50.
3-pointers: ECC 5 (B. Daghir 2, L. Daghir 1, Simons 1, Wehler 1), Ridgway 5 (Reynolds 2, Lundin 1, Mitchell 1, Sorge 1)
Score by quarters
ECCHS 6 11 19 11 47
Ridgway 9 18 12 11 50