DOVER - Seeking to continue a spirited postseason run, fifth-seeded Ridgewood High started slowly on Friday in the Division III District Championship game with IVC counterpart Garaway.
Despite a valiant effort, the Generals were unable to dig their way out of the early hole, resulting in a 60-50 loss to the Pirates to put a halt to both the tournament run and the season for RHS.
"It was a difference of a few possessions," RHS head coach Jamie McCrea offered following the game. "We had too many turnovers, gave up a few rebounds and they shot it well early and got the lead. Our guys were excited to play, but we couldn't make them one-dimensional."
The third-seeded Pirates jumped out to a 15-9 lead after one quarter and pushed out the lead to 19-9 with Austin Fearon driving lay-up at the 7:14 mark of the second period.
The Generals quickly responded with a ‘trey’ from sophomore Koelten Smith, followed by fellow sophomore Trey Stoffer’s short jumper to close the gap to 19-14 with 4:51 left in the opening half.
Garaway then closed the first half with a 10-7 run to secure a 29-21 lead at the intermission.
To open the third quarter, the Pirates built a 41-27 advantage following back-to-back three-pointers by Trevor Donaldson and a Ethan Roden stick-back on an offensive rebound at the 3:11 mark in the quarter.
Stoffer and sophomore Kaden Smith scored on consecutive possessions and Smith added another hoop in the final minute to get the Generals within 42-33 entering the final eight minutes.
Ridgewood carried the momentum into the early stages of the fourth period, opening with an 8-4 surge capped by Kaden Smith's hoop at the 4:45 mark to cut the Garaway lead to 46-41.
Fearon answered for the Pirates on the ensuing possession for a 48-41 lead and Ridgewood never got closer, with Garaway converting on 10-of-12 free throws down the stretch.
Senior Chase Griffith came alive in the fourth period with eight points for the Generals, but Garaway finished with an 18-17 scoring edge to hold on.
"Garaway plays with confidence," McCrea added. "They played good defense on our guards, and contested a lot of our shots. They made a few more plays than we did."
Griffith finished with a team-high 16 points for RHS and Kaden Smith added 11 while Stoffer and Koleten Smith each tallied eight points.
With the loss, Ridgewood finishes with a 11-15 mark, highlighted by the late-season tournament run.
It was the final game for a senior class headlined by Griffith, Zach Wright and Hunter Mizer along with Nathan Hill.
"I've been with the seniors since seventh grade when there was 15 of them," McCrea said. "There's only three left from that group, but I hope they're remembered for this because they battled to get here. It's been a long process, but I hope this will be the springboard for many more seasons like it."
Garaway was led in scoring by Donaldson, who finished with a game-high 23 points, while Ethan Roden closed with 13 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double effort for the Pirates.
Garaway (21-4) advances to D-III Regional action at Athens and will play either Oak Hill or Eastern on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. in a semifinal contest.
D-II District Semifinal
Ridgewood 70, Sandy Valley 65
UHRICHSVILLE - Using a sizzling touch at the charity stripe, fifth-seeded Ridgewood High rallied with a clutch fourth quarter performance to upset second-seeded Sandy Valley, 70-65, in the Division III District semifinal at Claymont High School on Tuesday.
After trailing throughout the first three quarters, the Generals came roaring back in the decisive fourth quarter thanks to an impressive 21-of-24 performance at the foul line for a huge 26-18 scoring edge.
Senior Chase Griffith led that strong Generals’ effort with an impressive 13-of-14 free throws in the final eight minutes to put the exclamation point on his game-high 28 point night for RHS.
For the game, the Generals connected on 26-of-30 free throws for an efficient 87 percent.
"We've shot free throws well all season, and we expect to since we have so many good shooters," RHS head coach Jamie McCrea offered. "We made like 10 3s when we played here against Malvern in the IVC showcase, so we're comfortable shooting in this gym."
"In the second half we focused on getting the ball in the post," McCrea continued. "We did a good job with our positioning and our bodies to get some calls and get to the foul line."
Sandy Valley (19-6) leaped out to a quick 7-0 lead, and closed the opening period with a 14-10 advantage.
The Generals then took a 22-20 lead after two Kaden Smith free throws at the 2:50 mark of the second, but a Brodie Kelly ‘trye’ highlighted a 9-5 run to close the half for the Cardinals, who led 29-27 at the intermission.
Ridgewood used deadly three-point shooting to stay close in the third period. The Generals knocked down five triples in the quarter, but Sandy Valley sharpshooter Dan Bartholomew's 25-foot triple to end the third frame put the Cardinals ahead 47-44 entering the fourth.
The Generals responded with am 11-4 surge to open the fourth. Griffith scored four straight during that run, and sophomore Kaden Smith's third triple capped it for a 55-51 advantage.
The lead then grew to 61-53 after Kaden Smith made two free throws with 1:35 left, but Sandy Valley pulled within 64-63 after Bryce Kelly's stick-back with just 33 seconds left.
Griffith answered with two freebies, and Sandy Valley missed a pair of game-tying three-pointers on the ensuing possession to seal its fate.
Ridgewood (11-14) finished with a total of 10 three-point makes in the game, with five players hitting at least one. Kaden Smith knocked down three on his way to 13 points, while Griffith, senior Zach Wright and sophomore Koleten Smith hit two ‘treys’ each.
Koleten Smith finished with 12 points, sophomore Trey Stoffer chipped in double figure support with 10 and Wright added seven for the Generals.
Bartholomew poured in 26 points to pace the Cardinals (19-6), while Chris Parker added 13 and Dante Tucci contributed eight points.
"Bartholomew is a nice player and we had to scramble to guard him and our kids did just a good enough job," the RHS mentor stated. "Everyone stepped up and contributed tonight, and I'm proud of our kids."