Ridge Boys Beat Bridgewater, Will Play for State Sectional Title
A defensive battle throughout, decisive fourth quarter secures semifinal win for Ridge.
Ridge and Bridgewater-Raritan high schools have a storied and celebrated rivalry across all sports. Friday night, the Red Devils and Panthers faced off in the North 2, Group 4 boys basketball semifinal to determine who would go to the state championship game Monday night.
Ridge ended up taking the game, albeit it would take a 4th quarter surge by the Devils to seal the deal at 43-32.
Ridge and Bridgewater both played magnificent defensive games throughout the night as evidenced by the low score through the end of the third quarter. But a last-second 3-point basket by Jake Mahon would spark the Devils in the fourth quarter. "When they gave the ball to me, time was running down so I figured why not shoot it, lucky enough it went in," said Mahon.
"At the end of the third quarter, coach told us the difference would be the number of winning plays we made," said Hugh Morris. "And it was clear we had more winning plays. It started with Derek (Lyons) diving on the ground for a ball, that was huge, Lane (Legband) came up with two huge boards, we knocked down our free throws, those were winning plays."
"I think our team has played great defense all year and the way they played together was extraordinary," said Bridgewater head coach Gene McAteer. "As good a defensive basketball team as I think we are, Ridge is right there. We will look back at this game and look at a few shots, we made them in other games, but didn't make them tonight."
Top scorer for Bridgewater was Vincent Pace with 10 points.
"I like their chances to win Monday night," added McAteer.
"Tonight was a compliment to our bench," said Ridge coach Brian Feath. "I think we wore them out a bit and they struggled to score. Our kids went after it hard. There is no tomorrow at this point. Give it all you have, we can rest in April."
"We played team basketball all year," said Eric Klacik. "We got in the huddle after Jake (Mahon) hit that big 3 at the buzzer to end the third quarter and said 'We got here together and we are going to finish it together'."
No. 2 seed Ridge will travel to No. 1 seed Linden Monday evening at 7 p.m. in a bid for the state sectional championship.