RIDGWAY — Johnsonburg’s Austin Green entered Friday night’s road game against Ridgway needing 11 points to reach the 1,000 career point milestone.
The senior did just that, scoring six of his 11 in the final quarter of play to help propel the Rams to a 40-32 victory.
After scoring five points isn the opening half behind a second-quarter trey, Green was held scoreless in the third quarter, as he still found himself six points shy of the mark nearing the midway point of the fourth quarter.
With Johnsonburg (7-5) holding onto a 28-23 lead, an Elker turnover near mid-court led to a fast break score from Green to move him within four points.
A few possessions later, the senior banked in a jump shot from the foul line to move within two, then with 1:52 left in the game, Green worked his way inside and scored off the glass to hit 1,000 career points as he received a loud ovation from the Johnsonburg faithful in attendance.
After the game, both head coaches had high praise for Green and his milestone accomplishment.
“Austin (Green) is a nice player, he’s a team player and I know that for the first half of the year he was pressing and taking some shots, I think that in his mind he wanted to get it (scoring 1,000th point) over with,” Johnsonburg head coach Bill Shuey said. “I’m happy for him, he deserves the recognition and now he can go out and play the game.”
On the other side, Ridgway head coach Tony Allegretto also praised Green for the feat.
“Congratulations to Austin Green for scoring his 1,000th, that was big to get to see him do that, he’s a good kid,” Allegretto said.
Green’s score came on the heels of a three-pointer from Ridgway’s Alex Bon on the other end had gotten the home side within five points.
Eric Christoff went 4-of-4 at the foul line down the stretch to help the Rams close out the eight-point win.
“We moved the ball and got some open looks and our defense fell asleep at times, but hopefully the kids can see what happened today and avoid it for the rest of the season,” Shuey said.
The game got off to a slow start, as Johnsonburg won the opening tip-off and held the ball for over a minute before a shot was off the mark, as the Elkers, who have now dropped four of their last five games after starting the season 6-0, then had a two-plus minute possession end with no points.
Gino Gregori eventually got the scoring started for the Rams with a jumper at the 4:48 mark of the first, while Zack Zameroski hit a jump shot of his own to pull the home side even with 3:10 left in the first quarter.
A score by Bon gave Ridgway a 5-4 lead with 26 seconds left in the opening frame, before Gabe Watts drained a three-pointer with eight seconds to go in the quarter to put the Rams up 7-5 after the first.
Green added a three of his own just 11 seconds into the second quarter as he inched closer to 1,000 points, as Cameron Stelene hit a pair of foul shots to give Johnsonburg a 12-5 edge before both teams went cold on the offensive end.
After a more than five minute long scoreless drought, Matt Dush scored the Elkers’ first points of the quarter with a pair of free throws with just under a minute left before RJ Miller added a score on the following possession to get Ridgway back within three.
Gino Gregori then went 1-of-2 from the line in the closing seconds to send the visitors into the half with a 13-9 advantage.
Ridgway (7-4) quickly regained the lead in the second half, as Bon hit a three before a score on the inside from Zameroski put it ahead 14-13 at the 5:21 mark of the third quarter.
Zameroski’s bucket proved to be the Elkers’ final points of the frame however, as Johnsonburg closed on an 8-0 run to take a 21-14 lead into the fourth.
Garrett Gregori accounted for three of the four scores during the run on his way to finishing with 10 points in the victory, while Christoff added the other basket.
“That’s the second game in a row he (Garrett Gregori) has done really well for us, so hopefully that just gives him toughness moving on,” Shuey said.
After the quarter of slow-paced, defensive-ruled basketball, the fourth quarter had a match different feel, as the action picked up drastically with Ridgway surpassing its game total alone in the final quarter of play while the Rams came one point shy of matching their total over the first three frames.
Watts opened the scoring in the fourth quarter with a three-point play to give Johnsonburg the lone double digit lead of the night just 15 seconds into the frame.
Despite having played the night before and facing a 10-point hole, the Elkers battled back, as Zamersoki went 1-of-2 at the line before he and Dush hit back-to-back threes to make it a one-possession game again at 24-21 with 6:26 left to play.
That was as close as Ridgway would come down the stretch, as the Rams began to put the game away with a 6-2 run on scores from Gino Gregori, Garrett Gregori and Green.
The Elkers’ final gasp came with 3:10 remaining in the game when Bon drained a corner trey to make it a 32-27 game, but Green responded by hitting a contested jumper from the foul line on the ensuing trip down the court to end the home side’s momentum.
After a jumper on the other end from Zamersoki, who led all scorers with 14 points on the night, Green added a score on the inside to reach the 1,000 career points milestone.
Facing a seven-point deficit, Ridgway was unable to respond on the other end, as Christoff hit both ends of a pair of one-and-ones at the free-throw line to seal the road victory for the Rams.
“We’re having trouble scoring, we played hard and second half we picked up the energy a little bit, but they (Johnsonburg) are well coached and they’ve got some scorers on that team and they made more shots than we did,” Allegretto said.
Both teams return to the court Tuesday as Johnsonburg hosts Brockway while Ridgway travels to DuBois Central Catholic.