Apollo-Ridge boys basketball team extends tournament run

| Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, 11:27 p.m.

Another season, another tournament win for Apollo-Ridge.

The Vikings won their Apollo Trust Tournament for the sixth consecutive year Saturday with a 77-40 victory over Leechburg.

A large home crowd saw freshman Duane Brown collect 20 points and seven assists. Tournament MVP Tre' Tipton contributed 18 points and five assists.

Apollo-Ridge is 8-1, and Leechburg slipped to 5-3. Two of the losses were to the Vikings.

Tipton and his teammates don't want to be the group to end the tournament streak.

“Definitely we love the support, and it's very nice to see a lot of people come in here,” Tipton said. “It's on Christmas break, so that's also when it's fun. We just try to put on a show to make people want to continue coming to the games.”

The Apollo-Ridge defense forced 12 Leechburg turnovers in the first quarter while taking a 25-8 lead. Brown scored on a backcourt steal to give the Vikings their first double-digit lead of the night 18-7 with 2:41 left in the first quarter.

“We wanted to set the pace of the game early, and jump on them early,” Vikings coach Matt Gourley said. “We got some steals, and what I'm most proud of is how we took care of the ball a little better than we had been.”

Leechburg struggled without guard Blake Steininger, who's recovering from a muscle tear. The Blue Devils are hoping Steininger returns to the lineup by mid-January.

“I think Apollo's very good,” Blue Devils coach Damian Davies said. “They've got a fantastic football team, a semifinal basketball team — a potential champion — and you could see it out there. They were relentless.”

The Vikings would often apply full-court pressure. When Leechburg did get the ball into the frontcourt, multiple Apollo-Ridge defenders would attack the ball-handler.

The Blue Devils were held to 10 field goals.

“We're playing good defense, and that's what we look to do,” Gourley said. “Play good defense and score in transition. “

Gourley was pleased with the play of sophomore Maurice Stankus, who came off the bench to score 14 points and collect six of Apollo-Ridge's 39 rebounds.

Alex Smith had a trio of 3-pointers among his 14 points.

One bright spot for Leechburg was senior Ben Ritchie, who scored 12.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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