Between June 27 and July 24 D9Sports.com will be counting down the Top 20 stories in District 9 from the 2016-17 school year starting with No. 20 June 27 and finishing with No. 1 July 24.
No. 18: Ridgway Boys’ Basketball Marches to PIAA Elite Eight
When the season started, there were high expectations for the Ridgway boys’ basketball team in what was thought to be a very competitive District 9 Class 2A field.
And the Elkers didn’t disappoint during the regular season winning 19 of 22 in the regular season with the losses coming by two points to a strong Coudersport team, by two points to St. Marys in the Elk County Tournament at St. Marys and to powerhouse ECC.
ECC got in the way of Ridgway winning an AML title beating the Elkers 59-41 in the AML title game, but Ridgway entered the District 9 tournament at the No. 2 seed and with high hopes of claiming the D9 title.
But Brockway got in the way. The upstart Rovers, who Ridgway beat twice in the regular season, knocked off the Elkers 50-37 in the D9 semifinals.
Ridgway could have sulked. They could have thrown the towel and went about their merry way.
First, playing an afternoon winner-moves-on-loser-goes-home consolation game against Clarion-Limestone to earn the third and final PIAA playoff spot out of District 9, the Elkers overcame blowing a six-point fourth-quarter lead to the Lions, who forced overtime on a Dan Callen layup with 12 seconds left, to beat C-L 65-62 thanks to five overtime points from Neil MacDonald, who had 23 in the contest.
The road wasn’t getting an easier for Ridgway.
As the third-place team out of D9, the Elkers were forced into the “eastern” half of the bracket and matched up against District 4 champion North Penn-Mansfield in NPM’s backyard at Mansfield University.
No problem. MacDonald (18 points) and Justin Kasmierski (17 points) combined to score 35 points in a 54-50 win.
Up next was another district champion, this time Berlin Brothersvalley out of District 5.
Again, no problem for Ridgway. The Elkers led 14-6 at halftime after a slow-moving opening 16 minutes and then cruised to a 42-28 victory at Altoona with MacDonald again leading the way with 14 points.
That victory put Ridgway in the PIAA Quarterfinals against Philadelphia powerhouse Constitution, the second-place team out of District 12.
No one gave the Elkers a shot against the Generals.
But more nearly a half, Ridgway put a scare into Constitution, a team that went on to finish second in the state.
With three minutes to go in the first half, the Elkers trailed by just four, 20-16, following a surprising 7-2 run.
Finally, however, the Constitution talent won out. The Generals finished the half on a 7-4 run to take a 27-20 lead into halftime and then scored 13 of the first 15 points after the break to put the game away.
Nevertheless, the Ridgway (23-6) earned the respect of their opponent and many across the state and within their own district that doubted they could play with the big boys.
Top 20 Sports Stories in District 9 for the 2016-17 School Year
No. 20 – Three District 9 girls’ place in the javelin at the PIAA Championships
No. 19 – Brockway Girls and Port Allegany Boys Claim First-Ever D9 Soccer Titles
No. 18 – Ridgway Boys’ Basketball Marches to PIAA Elite Eight
No. 17 – Released June 30
No. 16 – Released July 3
No. 15 – Released July 4
No. 14 – Released July 5
No. 13 – Released July 6
No. 12 – Released July 7
No. 11 – Released July 10
No. 10 – Released July 11
No. 9 – Released July 12
No. 8 – Released July 13
No. 7 – Released July 14
No. 6 – Released July 17
No. 5 – Released July 18
No. 4 – Released July 19
No. 3 – Released July 20
No. 2 – Released July 21
No. 1 – Released July 24