NEWCOMERSTOWN -- Visiting Ridgewood High made it a season sweep over Newcomerstown High on Tuesday night in round two of the annual Orange and Black rivalry between the pair of Inter-Valley Conference backyard rivals.
The Generals used a change in defensive strategy in the third quarter to gain momentum and capture a 53-40 victory over the Trojans on their home court. In the season's first meeting RHS collected a 56-42 victory over the visiting Trojans.
At the halftime break the host Trojans held a slim 22-20 advantage and in the early stages of the third stanza made a move to extend that lead.
After both teams struggled in the opening minutes of the quarter, Ridgewood junior Chase Griffith opened the second half scoring with a pair of free throws to deadlock the contest at 22-22 at the 5:22 mark.
Newcomerstown senior Bryce Barbera then stepped to the forefront and promptly tallied six straight points, including a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe to give the Trojans a 28-22 lead with 4:35 left in the third period.
With the Generals struggling to solve the NHS zone defense and playing with leading scorer senior Keith Leindecker (15 points per game) saddled with foul trouble, Ridgewood coach Jamie McCrea opted to shake things up with his defensive call.
"We were struggling against their zone...not attacking it and not moving the ball," McCrea explained. "So we decided to pick up the pressure and trap them at half-court when ever we could. We just needed to change something up and luckily it worked well for us."
The defensive switch paid big dividends with Ridgewood closing out the quarter with a 12-2 run to take a 34-30 lead after three quarters with senior Jhett Slusser capping off the rally by knocking down a three-pointer with 1:02 left in the frame.
"We just didn't handle the pressure in that third quarter...they really speeded us up and got us out of our comfort zone," NHS head coach Brad Lineback stated. "If they didn't force us into a turnover with their pressure they got us to take quick shots."
Lineback was playing with a depleted roster with just seven players seeing action due to missing several varsity performers due to injury and some discipline issues.
"We had a lot of guys playing big minutes due to us being up against it with numbers," Lineback added. "I'm really happy with the way we competed tonight, we just made some mistakes against their pressure defense but I can't fault our effort."
Slusser led the RHS charge with seven points in the quarter to pump up his game total to 16 points through three quarters.
"Jhett really played well for us tonight," McCrea offered. "He was really aggressive offensively and hit some big time shots for us and really got us going."
Slusser closed out his performance with five points in the fourth period to lead the Generals to a 19-10 scoring edge to extend the lead out to the final count of 53-40. Slusser finished with a team-high 20 point night along with pulling down four rebounds.
Ridgewood opened the night by grabbing an 11-9 lead after the first quarter with Slusser getting his solid night started with six points. In the second quarter Barbera stepped up for the Trojans with seven points to spark a 13-9 scoring advantage to grab the slim 22-20 lead at the intermission.
Griffith chipped in with 14 points for Ridgewood (5-13, 3-10 IVC), while senior Braeden Smith just missed double figures with nine points and Leindecker battled foul trouble all night finishing with eight points for the Generals.
Barbera pumped in a game-high 22 points along with 12 rebounds to pace Newcomerstown (3-15, 2-12 IVC), with senior George Brode contributing a double-double with 10 points along with 10 rebounds.