The Ridge High School boys’ basketball team is headed back to the NJSIAA N2G4 final for the second year in a row following their 48-39 win over bracket three seed Colombia.
Ridge took a commanding 28-13 lead into halftime with all five starters scoring and the “bigs” – Ryan Byrnes and Max Mahoney – dominating the boards. “Max Mahoney is the best sophomore in the county, he really stepped up for us,” said Kevin Doolan. “We all know how good Ryan Byrnes is, he is so strong and one of our best leaders.”
“Max Mohoney and Ryan Byrnes were both in double digits rebounding, they are just tough mentally and physically,” added Coach Brain Feath.
“We were playing for our seniors,” said Max Mahoney. “Coach always says it’s their last year and we need to end it on the right note for them. I am happy to have all my teammates to play with, they are great guys to be around every day in the gym.”
In the 3rd quarter, Columbia showed their stuff turning the tables on the Devils. Colombia outscored Ridge 17-3 bringing the score to 31-30 at the end of the frame. “They are a really explosive team,” said Kevin Doolan. “The Runcie brothers are amazing. They just had a huge run.”
“They smacked us in the mouth,” said Ridge head coach Brian Feath. “We got up, battled back and weathered that storm, we knew it was coming.”
Undaunted, Ridge would put up 17 points of their own in the 4th quarter. The Devils were 13 of 16 from the free throw line with Kevin Doolan shooting 8 for 8 in the quarter and 10 of 10 for the game.
“Kevin Doolan’s free throws down the stretch and no turnovers in the fourth quarter we huge,” said Feath. “Kevin is a senior, a fighter, and he didn’t want his career to end. The ball was in his hands 90% of the game. He was going down fighting. I can’t say enough about Derek Lyons battling a shoulder injury: he played 32 minutes, hit some big shots including a monster “3” to start the fourth quarter. It was a complete team win.”
“I feel like we have a complete team, we’re all friends and we have great chemistry; they are really fun to play with,” said Doolan. “Coach (Feath) had a great game plan, I think we have the best coach in the state.”
“It was a great win and it shows we can handle the pressure,” said Ryan Byrnes. “That 3rd quarter shows we can handle anything. We know we lost by 3 in the final last year (to Linden). We are a different team now and we know we can play with them.“
Ridge will face their annual post season nemesis, Linden, Tuesday night 7PM at Linden.
A note to anyone interested in going to the game: Get there very early as parking is sparse and Linden’s gym is small and you could be shut out.