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The Ridgway boys basketball seniors have seen the team go from seasons with a losing record to the best record in District 9.
The eight seniors for the Elkers were honored Friday night and closed out the regular-season home slate with a 58-46 win over Coudersport.
The seniors are Eric Matheson, Jordan Lundin, Aaron Sorge, Kyle Kinkead, Alex Oknefski, Tyler Stark, Keith Zawatski and Damon Carlson.
"I'd like to throw a thank you out there to all the seniors, for all the work they've done over the years and letting me holler at them," Ridgway coach Anthony Allegretto said. "This program is better because of them and it's about them."
Allegretto has coached Matheson and Lundin at the varsity level since they were both freshmen.
"We brought up Eric and Jordan when they were in ninth grade so this is my fourth year with them," Allegretto said. "It really helps to bring a kid up from ninth grade because they understand you. They're two kids that have a lot of basketball knowledge and they really brought their teammates along and even with summertime stuff, they were the leaders out there working with coach Roselli and coach Salberg."
Outside shooting propelled the Elkers for a lead which Ridgway would sustain for most of the game. At 7-6 late in the first quarter, Ridgway went on an 11-0 run to close the first quarter. Sorge added a 2-pointer and then a 3-pointer to build the lead to six. Matheson and Lundin hit treys on back-to-back possessions to build the advantage to 18-6 at the end of the first quarter. Ridgway had four treys in the first quarter as Coudersport was collapsing its defense on the inside and daring Ridgway to shoot from the outside.
"Early in the season, teams did that against us and it was a close game," Allegretto said. "Lately, we're shooting the threes a lot better. Aaron made four, he's had a rough go of it lately making threes, Jesse's been shooting it better. Jordan's been one guy who has been steady making the threes."
Allegretto said the balance from the outside helps prevent teams from totally focusing on stopping Matheson.
"They can't take Eric away," Allegretto said. "They can't take him away when you have Jesse standing out there. When Aaron and Jordan are both hitting, it's pick your poison. You either let us not drive and shoot the three or we're going to start getting penetration. That's where Eric can take over."
Mitchell Freeman added a basket to start the second quarter and John Michael Rigas hit a free throw for Coudersport before Lundin rattled off five straight points for Ridgway.
Jesse Reynolds added a layup for Ridgway and John Michael Rigas hit a pair of free throws for the Falcons to make the score 25-13. Gibson added another hoop before Matheson and Oknefski added to the Ridgway lead and made the score 29-15 with 1:45 left in the first half. A Freeman hoop and a 3-pointer from Tim McCusker pushed the deficit down to nine but a trey from Reynolds upped the Ridgway lead to 32-20 at the half.
McCusker opened the third quarter with a jumper 1:13 into the quarter and pushed the lead back to 10. Ridgway would gain some breathing room with a 9-2 run. Sorge buried a trey, one of four on the night for him. After a Gibson hoop, Sorge, Lundin and Reynolds tallied six straight points for the Elkers as Ridgway led 41-24 with 3:12 left in the third quarter. Sorge would add another trey with 2:22 left to make the lead 44-26.
Coudersport would score the next seven points to keep the game from becoming a runaway as the Falcons trailed 44-33 moments into the fourth quarter. After a Lundin field goal, Gibson hit a 3-pointer and a 2-pointer off the glass to pull within eight at 46-38. That would be as close as the Falcons would get as a 7-2 run would ultimately seal the deal. Matheson started the spurt with a 3-pointer. Coudersport answered with a field goal but Lundin and Reynolds would add hoops to make the score 53-40 with just under two minutes left. Ridgway was able to keep Coudersport from seriously threatening as the clock wound down.
Neither team could get on track offensively in the early going. Gibson opened the game with a bucket for the Falcons with 5:15 left in the first quarter. Matheson answered with a transition layup to tie the game near the halfway point of the opening quarter.
Sorge led Ridgway with 16 points, Matheson tallied 15 and Lundin poured in 14.
Ridgway (20-1) travels to play Bishop McCort on Tuesday.
"We're going to a different district with different referees," Allegretto said. "We're going to have a long trip and we're trying to make it a playoff type of experience."