By Alex Church and Scott Shindledecker
ALTOONA, Pa. – Ridgway, the third-place team out of District 9, lulled District 5 champion Berlin Brothersvalley to sleep claiming a 42-28 victory in the second round of the PIAA Class 2A boys’ playoffs Thursday night at Altoona Fieldhouse.
(Cover photo of Neil MacDonald. Photo by Paul Burdick. Check out more of Burdick’s work here)
After the Elkers scored the game’s first eight points, they used their traditional motion offense to control the clock and the outcome of the game. “
“We’ve been that way for a while,” Ridgway coach Tony Allegretto said. “We like to keep everybody in the gym mad because we won’t shoot.”
Ridgway (23-5) angered Berlin (17-10), and its fans, by holding the Mountaineers to only one field goal in each of the first two quarters and taking a 14-6 halftime lead.
“They do a great job of running their motion offense,” Berlin coach Tanner Prosser said. “They’re very patient, and, then, when you make a mistake, they convert.”
Ridgway forced Berlin to pick its poison defensively.
The Mountaineers attempted to clog the paint to combat the Elkers’ size advantage, but Ridgway appeared content to run the clock when Berlin did not pressure the ball.
“We want you to have to come out and guard,” Allegretto said. “At the beginning of the game, they were dropping off of us quite a bit and packing it in. We’re going to run long possessions if you’re going to allow us to do that.”
When Berlin adjusted, so did Ridgway.
“In the second half, they came out and pressured us,” Allegretto said. “They had a little bit more success, but we were able to open the game up. We were able to get to the basket and get it to the big guys a little bit more.”
Allegretto said the, 8-0, run to begin the game allowed his players to settle in at the Altoona Fieldhouse.
“That’s always big when you’re in a big gym like this and it’s a pressure game, he said.”
Ridgway’s big three –Neil MacDonald, Andy Breier and Justin Kasmierski—did the majority of the Elkers’ scoring. MacDonald led the way with 14, Breier tallied 10 and Kasmierski finished with eight.
The trio averaged double digits entering the state playoffs, and all three rose to the occasion.
“They’ve been our leaders all along,” Allegretti said of the senior and two juniors. “We know that they need to score, and if we can get Josh (Thorwart) and my son, Daunte, to give us a basket here and there and make some foul shots, then we’re in good shape.”
Ridgway held for the final shot of the third quarter. With time ticking down, Thorwart launched a three that hit the front iron, bounced high, and then dropped to provide the Elkers a, 25-14, lead.
Early in the fourth, MacDonald collected his own miss, put it back and drew a foul for a 3-point play. The free throw put the Elkers up, 32-17, and drew a fist pump from coach Allegretto.
Nick Gooden and Nate Thomas led Berlin with nine points each. Ridgway dominated the time of possession, which prevented Berlin from settling into an offensive rhythm.
“I’d love for there to be a shot clock in high school basketball,” Prosser said. “I think it would make the game a lot better, but there’s not and they fully take advantage of that.”
Ridgway will play the winner of Friday’s contest between Constitution and Holy Cross.
“Whoever is next, we’ll give it our best,” Allegretto said. “We’re happy to be where we are, but we’re not satisfied.”
RIDGWAY 42, BERLIN BROTHERSVALLEY 28
Score by Quarters
Berlin 3 3 8 14 – 28
Ridgway 10 4 11 17 – 42
BERLIN BROTHERSVALLEY – 28
Brick 1 2-2 4, Eckenroad 1 0-1 2, Thomas 3 0-0 9, Booth 1 0-1 2, Gooden 2 4-5 9, Snyder 0 0-0 0, Paul 0 0-0 0, Hay 1 0-0 2. Totals 9 6-9 28.
RIDGWAY – 42
Ames 0 0-0 0, Thorwart 1 3-5 6, MacDonald 5 4-6 14, Breir 5 0-0 10, Kasmierski 4 0-0 8, Allegretto 0 4-4 4, Jordan 0 0-0 0, Hinton 0 0-0 0, Thompson 0 0-0 0, Dush 0 0-0 0, Rohr 0 0-0 0, Salberg 0 0-0 0, Zameroski 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 11-15 42.
Three-pointers: Berlin 4 (Thomas 3, Gooden); Ridgway 1 (Thorwart).
GREENSBURG CENTRAL CATHOLIC 72, COUDERSPORT 63
HYDE, Pa. – The Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions are moving on after they sent undefeated Coudersport to its first loss Thursday evening in the second round of the PIAA Class 2A playoffs at Clearfield Area High School, 72-63.
The Falcons overcame adversity to win the District 9 title before rolling to an 80-45 win over United last week in the opening round of states.
Thursday, they proved they could score with one of the better teams in Western Pa., but the Centurions had a size advantage and were a superior passing team.
“It stings now with a loss,” Falcons head coach Brian Furman said. “The season’s over with, but it’s easy to look back and enjoy the success we had.”
The Centurions (25-1) and Falcons (25-1) played a fast-paced game, and Greensburg CC jumped out to a 27-15 lead after the first quarter.
But the Falcons picked up the defense and made the Centurions pay for some sloppy play with a rally in the second.
Coudy pulled to within one point, 33-32, with 2:18 on a Zach Layag drive. Layag had an excellent game, scoring 17 points. Teammate Jared Green also had 17 points. Owen Chambers was scoreless in the first half and finished with eight points. Derek Keglovits was in double figures with 12 points.
But Greensburg CC ended the half on a 9-1 run to get the lead back to nine, 42-33, at halftime.
The second half saw the Falcons stay close to GCC, closing to within five points, 53-48, in the third quarter and 60-55 early in the fourth.
But any time Coudy got close, the Centurions managed to push the lead back to eight or 10 points.
Greensburg CC’s Ben Hertzog paced the Centurions with 17 points in the first half and he finished with 29. Hertzog was on fire in the first quarter, scoring 13 points.
Neal McDermott, GCC’s leading scorer, had nine points in the second half and finished with 16.
Greensburg CC will face Sewickley Academy in the quarterfinals.
GREENSBURG CENTRAL CATHOLIC 72, COUDERSPORT 63
Score by Quarters
Greensburg CC 27 13 18 14 – 72
Coudersport 15 18 17 13 – 63
GREENSBURG CC – 72
Neal McDermott 7 2-4 16, Jack Liberatore 2 2-2 6, Ben Hertzog 12 4-4 29, Alvin Ross 2 0-0 6, Dom Eisaman 4 0-0 8, Ryan Quinn 0 0-0 0, Asa Klimchock 3 0-0 7. Totals: 30 8-10 72.
COUDERSPORT – 63
Owen Chambers 3 1-1 8, Jared Green 6 3-5 17, Aaron Wolfinger 3 0-1 6, Zach Layag 8 0-0 17, Derek Keglovits 5 0-0 12, David Rigas 1 0-0 3. Totals: 26 4-7 63.
Three-pointers: Greensburg CC 4 (Ross 2, Hertzog, Klimchock); Coudersport 7 (Green 2, Keglovits 2, Chambers, Layag, Rigas).