Apollo-Ridge rallies to upset Jeannette in WPIAL quarterfinals
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Good thing Apollo-Ridge didn't decide to pack it in after one quarter of their WPIAL Class AA quarterfinal against Jeannette.
Despite being down by 18 points, the Vikings continued to play — and played well.
Using tough defense and stellar shooting, Apollo-Ridge (18-7) rallied to upset the No. 4 seeded Jayhawks, 53-49, Saturday at Plum.
It's the first time since 1988 — and just the second time in program history — that Apollo-Ridge has advanced the semifinals. The Vikings will play No. 1 seed Beaver Falls (21-3) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at North Allegheny.
Jeannette (18-5) raced out to a 7-0 advantage and led 24-6 after one quarter. The Jayhawks were 10 for 15 from the field, while Apollo-Ridge was only 3 for 16.
But as poorly as Apollo-Ridge played in the opening quarter, it dominated the second and third quarters and eventually caught and passed Jeannette.
“We were getting shots, they just weren't falling,” Apollo-Ridge coach Matt Gourley said. “They don't give up. We knew they were capable of scoring a lot of points, but if we got things clicking and play good defense, I knew we'd have a chance to win at the end.”
Apollo-Ridge trimmed the deficit to 31-23 at halftime, and took its first lead, 36-35, on two free throws by Josh Reynolds with 55.8 seconds left in the third quarter. Apollo-Ridge led, 41-37, after three quarters.
“I'm not making excuses about the officials,” said Jeannette coach Adrian Batts, who was upset with a couple of traveling calls late in the game. “We had our chances. We gave it to them. We had too many turnovers.”
Jeannette had 15 turnovers, including nine in the second half. Batts felt his team's decision making wasn't good.
“We wanted to play up-tempo, but for some reason the players wanted to slow it down,” Batts said. “I didn't want to slow it down. I don't know if we were tired, but I wanted the game in transition.
“Give Apollo-Ridge credit, it stuck with its game plan. They played hard and made the shots they had to make and we didn't. We were lethargic.”
Batts said Miles Sunder and Jordan Edmunds weren't 100 percent because of an illness. Julian Batts, Duke Brown and Seth Miller each scored 12 points for Jeannette.
Apollo-Ridge sophomore Tre Tipton, who finished with 13 points, scored nine points in the third quarter, including a buzzer-beater from beyond midcourt.
Tipton said he had his concerns after the first quarter.
“I was skeptical at first, but I looked into my teammates' eyes and when we started making shots, it told me we weren't giving up,” Tipton said. “We wanted to show everyone we believe in each other and believe in Apollo-Ridge. We decided we didn't want to see it end. We just played together.”
Connor Billingsley also had 13 points for Apollo-Ridge, while Lucas Burrell added 11.
Jeannette had a couple of chances in the final minute, pulling to within 51-49, but two turnovers and free throws by Apollo-Ridge's Evan Davis and Alex Smith sealed the win.
Jeannette can still qualify for the PIAA playoffs as long as either Beaver Falls or Apollo-Ridge wins the WPIAL title.
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @PSchofield_Trib.
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