BROCKWAY –Some nuts are a little harder to crack than others but, usually, the more that you work at it, the shell finally breaks.
That formula seemed to work just fine for the Ridgway High School boys’ basketball team as it outlasted Brockway, 55-44, Tuesday.
It took the Elkers (9-0) a little bit of time to get things going against Brockway as they went to the half tied, 24-24, but their effort finally started to pay off in the third quarter as they got some separation and ran with it.
“We knew that (Brockway) had to gamble a little bit and they made some shots in the first half and they took it to us,” Ridgway head coach Tony Allegretto said. “I told the kids that I was happy with the way we played offensively in the first half, I just wasn’t happy with the defense. But, Brockway made some shots.
“In the second half we went after them a little bit,” Allegretto added. “We got some turnovers and some easy baskets that let us stretch out the lead a little.”
With the exception of a few minutes early in the game, the Rovers (5-6) lead nearly the majority of the first half.
However, by roughly midway through the third, that all changed as Ridgway broke a 28-28 tie with a 13-2 run that extended into the fourth and gave themselves some much needed breathing room.
The Rovers were able to trim the Ridgway lead to seven twice in the fourth but couldn’t manage to get any closer.
Much of that was due to the efforts of the three Elkers, Johnny Mitchell, Andy Breier and Neil MacDonald, who finished with double-digit point totals.
Mitchell scored seven of his game-high 16 points in the final frame while Breier, who finished with 14, and MacDonald, who had 10, each had four over the same stretch.
Brockway also had a pair of players finish with double-digit scoring as Jon Wood led the way with 12 while Noah Vokes added 10.
Wood banged down a pair of 3-pointers as part of his total which, along with Alec Freemer who also hit two, keyed a Brockway offense that hit six 3s in the contest.
“We attacked the hoop at times and then there were others that we got to the middle with some penetration and (Ridgway) was quick to (get there) with help so we kicked it out for some jumpers,” Brockway head coach Rick Clark said. “We knocked some of them down and we missed a couple. So they forced us to kick it out and try to beat them from the outside but we just didn’t quite make enough shots.
“But, I thought our guys played hard all night long and we gave ourselves some opportunities. The difference on the scoreboard might have been 11 points, but it certainly didn’t feel like an 11-point game.”
The early part of the game certainly didn’t have that feeling at all as the Rovers were able to work themselves out to an 11-6 advantage with just under three minutes to play in the first.
While Ridgway eventually closed that gap slightly, Brockway still managed a three-point, 14-11, lead at the start of the second.
The first part of the second saw Brockway take a six-point lead twice only to have the Elkers close the gap and tie things at 24-24 at the half.
The two traded points over the first half of the third quarter before Ridgway started to make its move, scoring seven unanswered points to open up a 35-28 with just under two minutes left.
The Rovers cut that in half moments later but a pair of free throws pushed the margin back to seven to open the fourth.
Quick baskets by Mitchell and MacDonald to open the fourth then turned that it 11 points less than a minute into the quarter.
Brockway continued to plug away despite sending the Elkers into the bonus with more than five minutes to play. But, surprisingly, while Ridgway held a big advantage in free throws, hitting 10-for-15 from the line compared to Brockway’s 0-for-3, the Elkers only hit four free throws from the stripe in the final eight minutes.
Still, it wasn’t enough to make enough of a difference as Ridgway took the victory.
Both teams will be in action again Friday. Brockway travels to Curwensville, while Ridgway hosts Johnsonburg.