OIL CITY — Ridgway was unable to overcome a dominant third quarter by Our Lady of Sacred Heart, as it saw its PIAA Class 2A run come to an end in the quarterfinal round at Oil City High School Saturday afternoon.
After trailing for almost all of the first half, the Elkers battled back with a 7-2 run to close the second quarter and tie the game at 27 heading into the half.
Zack Zameroski, who was big off the bench in the second quarter, got the run started with a bucket at the 1:43 mark of the second, as Jake Reynolds followed with a three-pointer to knot things up at 25 inside the final minute.
Daren DiMichele responded with a score on the inside with seven seconds left in the half to put OLSH (26-2) back in front.
As Ridgway looked to get the ball up court quickly, the ball was poked away and it looked as if time would run out before it could get off a shot.
Instead, Daunte Allegretto was able to gather the loose ball and attempted a desperation three at the buzzer, but was bumped by a Chargers’ defender to earn three foul shots with zeroes on the game clock.
The senior was able to hit the first two foul shots to tie the game at 27 as Chargers’ head coach Mike Rodriguez was issued a warning by the refs ahead of the third free throw.
Allegretto was unable to convert on the third foul shot after the delay, as the game went into the half tied at 27.
Even then the action in the first half was not done, as OLSH’s Dante Spadafora was issued a technical foul for continuing to hassle the referees over the call while the teams headed to their respective locker rooms.
Jake Reynolds hit both free throws awarded from the technical foul to open the second half and give the Elkers their first lead since early in the first quarter.
Ridgway (26-4) looked to add to its lead with the extra possession, but quickly turned the ball over as DiMichele scored on the other end to tie the game once again at 29.
The Elkers second offensive possession also ended in a giveaway, which led to Spadafora draining a three-pointer to put the Chargers back in front for good with 7:16 left in the third quarter.
“Those turnovers were bad ones,” Ridgway head coach Tony Allegretto said. “We knew the pressure was going to be turned up a notch and we knew we had to attack it and we didn’t.”
“We knew we couldn’t do that against these guys, they’re too good and too quick.”
Allegretto had a chance to get Ridgway back within one after conferring on the inside while drawing a foul with 5:40 to go in the frame, but was unable to finish off the three-point play at the free-throw line.
OLSH then began to pull away with a 7-0 run on a bucket on the inside and a three-pointer from Jake DiMichele around a score from Daren DiMichele as the Chargers took a 41-32 lead at the 4:40 mark of the third.
After Zameroski scored inside the paint to bring the deficit back down to seven, OLSH stretched its lead to double figures for the first time on the afternoon by closing the quarter on a 8-0 run to take a 49-34 advantage into the fourth.
Spadafora sparked the run with a three, while Austin Wigley added a three-point play and Daren DiMichele scored the final points of the frame by going 2 of 2 at the foul line with 1:30 left.
The Elkers began to narrow the gap early in the fourth quarter, as back-to-back baskets by Will Thompson and Reynolds brought them within 11 just 54 seconds into the final quarter.
After a three from Spadafora, Reynolds responded with a trey of his own to bring the score to 52-41 with 6:16 left to play.
Spadafora added 16 points to Daren DiMichele’s game-high 29, while Jake DiMichele also finished in double figures for the Chargers with 10 points.
Despite several pushes by Ridgway in the fourth quarter, it was never able to get back within single digits.
Parker Rohr hit a pair of key three-pointers in the fourth for the Elkers, as the second of which was followed by a steal and fast-break lay in by Allegretto to cut the deficit to 10 (63-53) with 89 ticks left, which proved to be the closest Ridgway would come in the final quarter.
After a defensive stand, Allegretto looked to get the Elkers within seven, but his deep three pointer hit the front of the rim and bounced out, as the Chargers came down with the rebound.
OLSH went 10 of 13 from the foul line in the fourth to preserve the win and advance to the semifinal round, where it will face District 6 champion Bishop Guilfoyle.
Allegretto noted that his team fought until the end, despite the score, something they’ve done all season long.
“We’ve been doing that all year long and thats how we pulled out several games,” Allegretto said. “The kids don’t quit and we end up making plays at the end.”
“Daunte (Allegretto) has that three ball with 50 seconds left down 10 and if he makes that we probably call timeout, maybe get a quick foul and maybe something happens.”
“They never quit, they haven’t quit ever in a game and its a testament to them.”
The opening quarter Saturday was full of momentum swings, as Reynolds opened the scoring for Ridgway with a three-pointer 43 seconds in, before Ricco Tate scored a pair of baskets to give OLSH its first lead of the day.
Reynolds finished with a team-high 15 points, while Allegretto also finished in double figures with 10.
Rohr and Zameroski added eight points apiece, while Thompson finished with seven and Matt Dush had six for Ridgway.
Trailing 10-6, the Elkers got a pair of quick buckets on the inside from Dush to tie things up at the 3:16 mark of the first.
Daren DiMichele then took over, scoring the next eight points over a span of 1:43 behind a pair of threes, as he scored 10 of his game-high 29 points in the first quarter.
Another score by Dush helped Ridgway get back within six at 18-12 after eight minutes of play.
The Elkers then began to battle back in the second, as Zameroski scored the final four points of a 6-2 run to get them back within two near the midway point of the quarter.
Zameroski then kick-started a 5-0 run to tie the game in the final minute of the first half, as his basket was followed by a three from Reynolds.
Allegretto’s free throws then sent the game into the half knotted up at 27, before OLSH took over in the third quarter.
After Reynolds’s free throws to open the second half, Ridgway was held to just five points the rest of the quarter on two field goals, one each from Allegretto and Zameroski.
By the end of the third, the Chargers had taken control of the game by finishing the frame with a 22-7 edge in points to take a 15-point lead into the fourth.
Allegretto noted that the team’s success this season certainly exceeded expectations.
“You look forward to the season as its coming and try to figure out what you’re going to do,” Allegretto said. “I knew we were gonna be good, I didn’t know we were gonna be that good.”
“These kids just put the time in and all of them,” Allegretto said. “Those six main guys, every single one of them somewhere along the line made a play to win a game.”
The game was the final one in an Elkers uniform for Ridgway’s four seniors in Reynolds, Rohr, Allegretto and Thompson.
“I’ve been with those kids and followed them since fourth grade and to get to this point, they’ve gotta be awful proud,” Allegretto said.