Brett Foster (above, earlier this month) had 21 points as Ridley advanced to the District 1 AAAA semifinals.
Stephen Pianovich (@SPianovich)
At this point in the season, Ridley coach Mike Snyder knows what to expect from his team, especially late in games.
He knows the Green Raiders keep their composure, and because of that, have the ability to answer any run a team makes with one of their own. That’s exactly what he and the rest of a packed gymnasium saw Friday night.
In a 54-50 win over Spring-Ford in the District 1 AAAA quarterfinals, the fourth-seeded Green Raiders went on an 11-0 run in the middle of the fourth quarter. This turned a two-point deficit into a nine-point lead, and had the Ridley student section rocking as the team eventually ran out the clock and punched its second consecutive ticket to the AAAA semifinals at Temple. The Green Raiders will face No. 9 Chester on Tuesday for a trip to the title game.
“We seem to be a team that makes runs, then we go in a slump and then we make runs,” Snyder said afterward. “They took the lead, but we don’t panic. That’s one of the good things about this team. Players don’t get nervous or do things too quick, they just try to stay with it.”
No. 12 Spring-Ford, which got to the quarterfinals by upsetting fifth-seeded Penncrest, rallied from a 15-point first-quarter deficit to take its first lead of the game early in the fourth quarter. And after the two teams traded a few buckets, the Rams found themselves up 35-33 with about five minutes left.
That’s when Ridley responded.
Fueled by the long ball, the Green Raiders rattled off 11 consecutive points, including back-to-back 3-pointers which caused Spring Ford to call a timeout. Senior guard Ryan Bollinger hit two treys in the stretch and scored eight of his 11 points in the final frame.
“Once I hit one, the second one was just natural,” said Bollinger whose two threes bookended the crucial run. “I could tell it was going to go when it came off my hand.”
Fellow seniors Brett Foster and Julian Wing led the way for Ridley with 21 and 12 points, respectively. Foster scored nearly half of his points in an electric first quarter, as he had 10 in the first eight minutes – eight more than Spring-Ford had as a team.
The Rams did not hit a field goal in the first quarter and dug themselves a 17-2 hole on the road.
“Our defensive intensity,” Snyder said of what he thought sparked the good start. “We were really quick in that first quarter, we were in tune with everything that was going on. Good help defense, we were quick to move. The big start really helped us, because we haven’t been doing that much lately.”
Added Foster: “Our coaches told us exactly what to do and put us in the right spot. And our crowd. They gave us a lot of energy and that made us want to play hard.”
The Rams would not go away, though. They outscored Ridley, 17-4 in the second quarter to make it a two-point game at halftime. And Spring-Ford did it with full court defense, which resulted in turnovers and some easy buckets.
“They don’t really get pressed much because their guards are so good, so they’re not used to it,” coach Chris Talley said. “Sometimes when you’re not used to it, it can be effective. I’m proud of how our kids battled. I couldn’t ask for a better effort.”
Junior Nigel Cooke and senior Matt Gnias both scored 14 points for Srping-Ford, the PAC-10 Champion, which will still advance to the state tournament. The Rams also got 10 points from Charles Drummond, six of which came early in the fourth quarter to give his team the lead.
“The kids are down, they wanted to go to Temple,” Talley said. “But they know we’re still going to the state tournament and we want to get the best seed possible to get the best matchup we can and see what we can do in that tournament.”
Meanwhile, the Green Raiders will meet Chester on Tuesday night on North Broad Street. With a Central League title and 25-1 record (the lone loss coming to Downingtown West) already under its belt, Ridley has a lot to boast. But the guard-oriented team wants a little more.
“I told them it’s a great accomplishment,” Snyder said. “We don’t have a player over 6-foot-1, so we have to do it through hard work, focus and determination. We’re not going to do it by physically overwhelming anyone.”
Friday's District 1 AAAA Results
No. 11 Lower Merion 68, No. 14 Conestoga 45 (Game story)
No. 2 Plymouth Whitemarsh 43, No. 7 C.B. West 41 (Game story)
No. 9 Chester 49, No. 17 C.B. East 33
No. 4 Ridley 54, No. 12 Spring-Ford 50 (Game story)
No. 5 Pennridge 61, No. 20 Perkiomen Valley 42
No. 18 Academy Park 71, No. 10 Phoenixville 58 (Game story)
No. 3 Downingtown West 63, No. 27 Upper Dublin 59
No. 26. Hatboro-Horsham 66, No. 1 Coatesville 57
Tuesday's District 1 AAAA Semifinals
Liacouras Center, Temple University
No. 2 Plymouth Whitemarsh vs. No. 11 Lower Merion (7 PM)
No. 4 Ridley vs. No. 9 Chester (8:45 PM)
Higher seeds host
No. 12 Spring-Ford vs. No. 17 C.B. East
No. 7 C.B. West vs. No. 14 Conestoga
Play-Back Elimination Games
Higher seeds host
No. 5 Pennridge vs. No. 18 Academy Park
No. 3 Downingtown West vs. No. 26 Hatboro-Horsham