BROOKVILLE — Ridgway followed up an emotional win against previously unbeaten Elk County Catholic Saturday night in the AML championship game with a hard-fought 48-32 victory against Clarion Tuesday night in a District 9 Class 2A quarterfinal game at Brookville High School.
The second-seeded Elkers (22-3) used a strong defensive effort to stymie the seventh-seeded Bobcats (11-12) — particularly sophomore Cal German who came in leading Clarion in scoring at 19.5 points per game.
German found the going tough against the Elkers’ aggressive defense and scored just seven points — more than dozen below his average. And, four of those came in the fourth quarter once Ridgway had built a double-digit lead.
Ridgway’s “D” held the Bobcats to single-digit scoring in all four quarters.
Conversely, Clarion shut down the Ridgway’s leading scorer Jake Reynolds (11.8 ppg), as the Elkers managed just three points on a first-quarter trey.
However, Reynolds’ teammates has back as Ridgway had a balanced scoring attack otherwise. Zack Zameroski had a big game with 12 points, while Matt Dush also had 12. Will Thompson added 11, while Daunte Allegretto chipped in eight.
Zameroski and Dush exceeded their season scoring averages to help Ridgway advance. The Elkers will play Keystone in the D-9 semifinals, unofficially on Friday at a site to be determined.
“We played great defense, and obviously we had to take German out,” said Ridgway coach Tony Allegretto. “Everybody did a nice job, especially Zack (Zameroski) who was on him most of the night. Parker (Rohr) and Matt (Dush) had him a little bit too.
“We couldn’t leave him because he’s a heck of a ball player, and we were pinching off him. Everybody else, we wanted to pressure them and force them into the gaps. They got some runs right into the bucket where we didn’t rotate over, but for the most part we forced them into tough shots or sped them up.
“Offensively, we hit two of our first six 3-pointers but didn’t need to be shooting those, and I told them that. I wanted a ball fake, take three steps in and hit a cutter and get a layup or kick it back out. With the type of defense they (Clarion) play, we knew they would get into foul trouble and expend a lot of energy if we moved the ball around.
“Coach (Clarion’s Jess Quinn) did a nice job and went into a 2-3 zone to try to screw us up, and it worked to a degree and sped us up. It’s hard to attack that because when they are out trapping, and you can’t run anything.
We had a little difficulty until we got our feet under us and starting moving the ball a little more.”
The game opened as a back-and-forth battle, with the teams trading the lead six times in the first quarter. The final time came on a 3-pointer by Allegretto that put the Elkers up 11-9 before Dush came up with a quick steal and went the length of the court for a layup to make it 13-9 after one quarter.
Ridgway never trailed from there, although Clarion did pull even early in the second quarter.
Bobcats Gavin Brinkley and Jake Burns each converted old-fashion 3-point plays around a hoop by Dush to tie things at 15-15 just under the 5-minute mark.
Ridgway regained the lead on a 3-point play by Zameroski, who then scored again off a pass from Dush to give the Elkers a five-point lead (20-15).
German countered with a trey for his first points to make it a two-point game, but Ridgway scored the final six points of the half to take a 26-18 advantage in the break.
Dush had four of those points and finished with six in the quarter, while Zameroski added five. That duo combined for 18 of the Elkers’ 26 first-half points.
Ridgway wasted little time pushing its lead to double-digits (29-18) in the second half as Thompson completed a 3-point play after he was fouled 46 seconds into the third quarter.
Nick Frederick countered with a score for Clarion before Ridgway started to sow things down a little more in its half-court set. That patience paid off in a pair on baskets inside by Thompson over a 2-minute stretch that made it a 13-point contest at 33-20.
The teams traded baskets from there, with Ridgway taking a 35-24 lead into the fourth.
The Elkers promptly put the game on ice as the opened the final eight minutes on a 10-2 run to take a commanding 19-point lead (45-26) with 3:07 to play. Thompson had six points in that spurt, while Zameroski and Dush also had baskets. Thompson scored all 11 of his points after the half.
German scored four late points for the Bobcats, but it was nowhere near enough as Ridgway took home the 16-point victory.
In the other quarterfinals Tuesday, top-seeded Coudersport ran past Brockway in the second half, 79-44, while fourth-seeded Karns City bested fifth-seeded Redbank Valley, 69-57.
Coudy and Karns City will play in the other AA semifinal.