The Ridge High School boys basketball team bounced back Saturday after its first loss of the season with a victory over Hillsborough in the semifinals of the Somerset County Tournament.
The two rivals met for the first time this season to vie for a berth in the Somerset County championship game. The hallmarks of both teams are their tenacious defenses.
Hillsborough was led by the powerful Matt Hornich whose strength and height affected Ridge's inside game. He was also the game's high scorer, putting in 13 points. Jalen Parham would add 8 points for the Raiders.
"Our key was to have the ball inside the paint," said Ridge coach Brian Feath. "These were two great defensive teams. Our focus was to just attack, attack, attack."
Big man Hugh Morris had a big night, coming to life in the fourth quarter when he scored 8 of his 11 points. Saddled with four fouls, Morris would sit for the third quarter.
"For me, I need to see the ball go in to get my confidence going," said Morris. "In the fourth quarter, I was able to get one or two to go down, and I felt they could keep going to me. That was big."
"I thought we did a nice job getting the ball inside to Hugh Morris," said Feath. "When the game was on the line, he made some good shots, and he was calling for the ball. Good for him."
"In the second half, we kept our composure, we made good decisions, we didn't force things," Feath said. "We went up 16-6, and we kind of lost our heads for a little while and they made their run, they switched up their defenses a little bit. Hillsborough is a phenomenal team, they are well coached. We knew they were going to make a run at us, they are too good not to.
"Ryan Byrnes defensively could have won the game for us," Feath said. "When Morris was in foul trouble and on the bench, Ryan Byrnes stepped up and gave us some great minutes on defense and finished a few plays for us. That is what a team is all about, you can't do it with 2 or 3 or 4 guys. You never know when it is your opportunity. It was nice to see him perform on this stage."
THEY SAID IT
"Obviously Jaren (Sina) is a very good shooter and it seemed like he didn't miss. But they're 17 years old and we're 17 years old, we had a couple of slip ups in the game against them that allowed them to go on an 11 point run that helped them pull away from us. We played with a 3 point lead with 3 minutes left in the first half, so we were right there with them. We want the revenge."
-Hugh Morris about the rematch with Gill St. Bernard's for the SCT final.
"I told the kids a few weeks ago, we needed a loss, just to regroup and refocus because we were feeling way too good about ourselves. We had a great practice yesterday, the kids weren't down and out, they were upbeat. We knew this game today was more important than Thursday (Ridge lost their first game of the season to Gill St. Bernard's Thursday). County and state games are more important than regular season games."
- Coach Feath
Ridge will face Gill St. Bernard's Saturday at Bridgewater-Raritan High School in the SCT Finals.