Apollo-Ridge advances to quarterfinals for 1st time since 1991
By Bill West
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:21 p.m.
After Wednesday night's WPIAL Class AA first-round game against Sto-Rox, Apollo-Ridge sophomore guard Tre Tipton spoke about his teammates' faith in each other's abilities at about the same super-speed pace the Vikings sustained minutes earlier on the court.
Apollo-Ridge answered No. 5 seed Sto-Rox's aggressive man-to-man pressure with its own version of up-tempo basketball during a 56-52 upset win at North Allegheny. Apollo-Ridge advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals for the first time since 1991 and will meet No. 4 Jeannette (18-4) on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
“The team has always believed in me, and I believe in my teammates,” Tipton said. “We always say we want to play for each other.”
A 16-5 run that stretched most of the first quarter assured Apollo-Ridge (17-7) that it had the talent to run with Sto-Rox (14-9) — or at least stop Sto-Rox from easy transition buckets.
“We're a quick team, but when you face a team like (Sto-Rox), you realize they're a lot quicker, so we kind of had to slow them down,” said Apollo-Ridge coach Matt Gourley, whose Vikings used a zone for much of the game.
Tipton, 6-foot-5 senior forward Connor Billingsley and senior guard Lucas Burrell established themselves as Apollo-Ridge's scoring threats early. Tipton had five of his 14 points in the first quarter as he managed two putbacks and a free throw. Billingsley scored five of his 15 points in the quarter. And Burrell, who finished with a team-high 18 points, sank the first of his four 3-pointers.
Sto-Rox, down 24-15 about two minutes into the second quarter, started a comeback, one that junior swingman Lenny Williams led.
Williams, who finished with a game-high 21 points, sank a jumper, had a putback and then made three 3-pointers to bring Sto-Rox's deficit to one point just before halftime.
“It wasn't as excited as you might think,” Gourley said of the Apollo-Ridge locker room at halftime. “We felt like we were the better team, particularly inside, and we let them back in the game.”
Both teams eased up on the gas in the third quarter, and they entered the fourth tied at 39.
Apollo-Ridge then returned to a run-and-gun approach as Burrell sank a 3-pointer and Tipton scored in transition within the quarter's first minute.
When Sto-Rox stopped Apollo-Ridge's transition offense during the following few minutes, Apollo-Ridge turned to Billingsley, who delivered six consecutive points.
“I felt like I might be able to play a big role,” said Billingsley, who also defended Sto-Rox 6-6 junior Makil Allen most of the game. “It was all my teammates, though. They found me in the right places.”
A layup and free throw by Javelle Kirkland cut Sto-Rox's deficit to two with 29 seconds left. Sto-Rox had an opportunity to tie the game in the final 10 seconds, but a jumper sailed a bit long, and Apollo-Ridge recovered the rebound.
“It's great for the school,” Gourley said.
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.
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.