Apollo-Ridge hangs on for victory over Neshannock
By George Guido
Published: Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, 11:15 p.m.
The Apollo-Ridge boys basketball team was cruising along, leading Neshannock by 15 with 1:44 left in the third period.
But the Vikings had to hold off a furious Lancers rally in the last four minutes of play to escape with a 66-64 victory in a WPIAL Class AA preliminary-round game.
A 3-point try by Neshannock's Ernie Burkes at the buzzer fell short, and Apollo-Ridge (16-7) moved on to play fifth-seeded Sto-Rox on Wednesday at a time and site to be determined.
The win at Highlands High School was the first Apollo-Ridge playoff victory in 10 years.
“This group of kids has worked so hard,” Vikings coach Matt Gourley said. “They were a great team that fought back, and fortunately, we were able to hold on.”
The Vikings led, 56-41, on a basket by Lucas Burrell off an offensive rebound. Apollo-Ridge committed just one turnover in the third period.
Apollo-Ridge was in front, 61-52, with 4:07 left in the fourth quarter only to see that advantage evaporate.
Burkes' sixth 3-pointer of the game with 2:39 remaining sliced the Vikings' lead to 63-59.
With 1:12 to go, Matt McKinney converted a Jim Madure steal to bring Neshannock to within 63-61 before Apollo-Ridge sophomore Tre' Tipton answered with a basket at the 50-second mark.
A 3-pointer by freshman Ethan Moose cut the Vikings' lead to 65-64. On the ensuing inbounds play, the ball went off the foot of a Vikings player and Neshannock had a chance to take the lead for the first time since early in the second quarter.
Burrell stole the ball, and Vikings guard Josh Reynolds was fouled. He hit 1 of 2 from the line to make it 66-64.
Neshannock (17-6) called timeout after Apollo-Ridge's fifth team foul to set up Burkes with the final shot.“We got a clean look, the guys executed that play to perfection, we got the ball into the hands of the guy we wanted to, but it didn't go in,” Lancers coach John Corey said.
“We had to keep track of 23 (Burkes) for the last shot,” Gourley said. “We were switching off screens and he got the shot away, but it was a contested shot.”
Apollo-Ridge, which scored the game's first seven points and led by nine twice in the first quarter, was on top, 23-20, as the second quarter began.
The Vikings collected 14 offensive rebounds in the first half and forced eight Neshannock turnovers in the first quarter. The Lancers turned the ball over on each of their first three possessions.
“It was big to get out to that lead early,” Gourley said. “When we've had success this year, we've done that.
“Putting ourself in that situation, we didn't do our job, obviously, coming out of the gate,” Corey said. “They worked hard and found a way.”
Burkes, a junior, had 28 points to lead Neshannock. Burrell led five Apollo-Ridge players in double figures with 18 points.
Gourley praised the work of senior Connor Billingsley, who came off the bench to score 12 points, all in the first three quarters.
Neshannock was assessed a technical foul late in the first quarter when freshman reserve Frank Frashetti's name wasn't entered into the scorebook when he came on the floor.
Apollo-Ridge converted one of two foul shots on the technical.
George Guido is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Serra basketball coach Gibbons wins battle with cancer, returns to sideline
- Section 1-AAAA favorite Hempfield girls set sights on WPIAL title
- Blairsville girls, boys expected to lead pack in Heritage Conference
- New Valley boys basketball coach Faulx seeking right mix
- Greensburg Salem girls to have different look than last year’s team
- Mid-Mon Valley basketball teams ready to tip off
- Valley girls basketball sees boom in roster numbers
- Led by junior forward Wise, Vincentian girls a favorite to defend WPIAL title
- Class A boys basketball preview: Lincoln Park fell short of WPIAL, PIAA titles last year but again is favored
- City League basketball preview: Westinghouse teams out to defend titles
- Yough boys look to compete without bulk of last season’s scorers