Shift in strategy paves way for Apollo-Ridge's victory

| Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, 9:06 p.m.

Trailing by one at the half, Apollo-Ridge coach Matt Gourley felt his team had to change its attack.

Tre Tipton was moved from the backcourt to the frontcourt, and the move paid dividends. The Vikings collected a 52-38 victory over California in a WPIAL Class AA preliminary-round game at Elizabeth Forward.

Apollo-Ridge started the third quarter with a 22-2 run and cruised to victory.

The Vikings (19-3) will play Quaker Valley in a first-round game Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.

Apollo-Ridge trailed 19-18 at the half.

“That first half wasn't us,” Gourley said. “We didn't play well in the first half. We put Tre in the paint, that took them out of their flat-3 defense, and we were able to score some buckets.”

The move resulted in open shooting areas, and the Vikings took advantage.

Alex Smith, who had missed time recently with an ankle sprain, made a trio of 3-pointers in the third period.

“Alex hasn't practiced in three or four days. We didn't even know if we were going to have him today,” Gourley said. “He came in for the shootaround this morning and he said it felt great. I told him I would watch him in the warmups, and I decided not to hold him back.”

Smith scored 11 of his 13 points in the third quarter, and Dominic Schrecengost had seven of his nine as Apollo-Ridge outscored California (10-13), 28-6, in the quarter.

“We have to score to press,” Gourley said. “So we were able to start pressing a little better. We want to use our defense to score. The first half, we were a little anxious and missed a lot of shots.”

“They're athletes,” Trojans coach Bruno Pappasergi said. “They came out in the second half with guns a-blazing. Tipton's too good. We didn't want to go down in the lane with him. When we got behind, we had to change our game plan.''

Apollo-Ridge forced eight California turnovers in the third period. Loren Wingard's two steals late in the third resulted in Vikings baskets.

The most spectacular turnover of the day came when Tipton leaped at the baseline to grab an inbounds pass.

Tipton fed to Smith, who was fouled by Malik Jackson and made both free throws to give the Vikings a 32-21 lead with 4:35 left in the third quarter.

Tipton had 10 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals. Freshman Duane Brown also had 13 points for Apollo-Ridge.

Pappasergi started the season as an assistant but took over as coach when coach Steve Luko became ill early in the season.

“Let me tell you right now: I've coached 38 years, and this team is one of the memorable teams I'll ever have,” Pappasergi said. “It's because of the adversity we faced. We were without two starters today. The kids played hard and they listened to what we tried to teach them in such a short period of time.”

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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