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Ford City bounces back from tough loss, routs Apollo-Ridge

| Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, 12:24 a.m.
Kehley Shank, contributing photographer
VND-ARFord1-013114 Apollo Ridge's Dana Speranza closely guards Ford City's Andrea DiGregorio Thursday evening at Ford City High School. (Kehley Shank, contributing photographer) Valley News Dispatch
Kehley Shank | For the Valley News Dispatch
Apollo-Ridge's Dana Speranza guards Ford City's Andrea DiGregorio Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, at Ford City High School.
Kehley Shank | For the Valley News Dispatch
Apollo-Ridge's Ashley Emminger (left) amd Megan Bonelli battle for a rebound with Ford City's Allyson Cujas (right) during a game Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, at Ford City.

With WPIAL playoff berths already secured, Ford City and Apollo-Ridge were playing for postseason positioning on Thursday night at Red Mihalik Gym.

Ford City was able to claim a share of second place with West Shamokin thanks to a 46-20 victory over the Vikings in the Section 1-AA finale for both teams.

The Apollo-Ridge offense couldn't get untracked, as the Sabers held the Vikings to just nine field goals.

Ford City finished 7-3 in the section and is 12-6 overall. Fourth place Apollo-Ridge is 11-7 (4-6).

Both schools likely will play preliminary round games when the playoffs open Feb. 14-15.

The Class AA playoff field will consist of at least 24 teams, meaning no more than eight schools will sit out the preliminary round.

Allyson Cujas led the way with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Christina Davis added 10 points.

Julia DeMeno scored 12 for Apollo-Ridge.

The Sabers were coming off a one-point loss at West Shamokin on Wednesday.

“They played good ‘D,'” Ford City coach Al Davis said of his team. “Everybody helped out. We didn't do well against the high ball-screen at West Shamokin (Wednesday) night. But we did better tonight. We're sort of a Jekyll and Hyde team. These teams are pretty close and we were on tonight.”

Apollo-Ridge coach Jim Callipare was hoping for a better showing from his team, which is in the WPIAL playoffs for the first time in four years.

“You've got to give credit to their defense,” Callipare said. “We were missing some people and getting some people back into the mix. We're not playing as a team right now — we're doing too many things individually. Collectively, we're not on the same page.”

Cujas said she thought it was good to get back on the court quickly after the West Shamokin loss.

”It's real important to get back from losses like that because sometimes they can be devastating,” Cujas said. “We have the right kind of girls to bounce back from that kind of loss: you've got a good game ahead of you.”

“Ally looked comfortable tonight in there,” Davis said. “West Shamokin bumped her around a little bit, but she stepped up tonight. I was also happy with Christina's (Davis) play. We put her at the point, we needed a little more strength there.”

A Cujas drive from the right wing with 4:15 left in the half gave Ford City its first double-digit lead at 16-6.

The 5-foot-10 senior had 10 of her team's first 16 points.

The Sabers pulled out to a 21-12 advantage by halftime, largely on the strength of outrebounding Apollo-Ridge 15-5 in the first half.

The Sabers held the Vikings without a point for almost eight minutes before Clare Broman's basket ended the drought.

Both teams will play several playoff tuneup games over the next 10 days.

“We have some more games,” Callipare said. “No matter what happened tonight, nothing was going to change as far as the section goes.”

Several minutes after the game, school officials and police locked down the gym after a robbery occurred at a gasoline station a few blocks from the high school.

No one was injured and there were no incidents at the gym related to the robbery.

After a delay of about 20 minutes, police allowed the teams and their fans to depart.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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