NEW PARIS - The Chestnut Ridge boys basketball team hasn't won a district championship in 20 years. The Lions will get a chance to that end that drought this weekend.
Ridge advanced to the District 5 Class AA championship game with a 63-54 win over Northern Bedford Wednesday in the semifinals.
A large group of Chestnut Ridge middle schoolers celebrated the win with chants of "UPJ! UPJ! UPJ," which is where the Lions will play Conemaugh Township for the title Saturday. Tip-off is 8 p.m.
Top-seeded Conemaugh Township defeated Tussey Mountain 68-45 in Wednesday's other semifinal game to advance.
"From the time we lost last year, this was our goal," Ridge senior guard Brad Hengst said. "It's such a great feeling after all the hard work and sticking it out through the hard times."
Sophomore Beau Bosch led the Lions with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Hengst finished with 17 points, seven of which came in the fourth quarter to help seal the win.
It was Michael Young and Braden Hengst, Brad's younger brother, however, who sparked a key 10-0 run spurt in the second quarter.
The second-seeded Lions led 16-11 after one quarter, but Northern scored the first four points of the second quarter to make it a one-point contest.
Young answered with a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and Braden Hengst sank one from the wing after a Northern turnover.
Two more Northern turnovers led to back-to-back layups by Young and Braden Hengst. Northern did not get within seven points the rest of the way.
"First thing we work on every day is defense and pounding the glass," Ridge coach Randy Meck said. "Northern matches up very well with us. They have a lot of size. I was concerned because we had a rough week to close out the regular season losing to Tussey Mountain and Hyndman."
Northern bolted out to a 6-0 lead with three buckets in the first 47 seconds of the game, but Ridge outscored the Black Panthers 16-5 the rest of the first quarter. Northern's top-scorer and rebounder, Tayler Pressel, picked up two fouls during that stretch as well and was never really a factor in the game.
"When you have your top offensive threat taken way, what are you going to do? You can't replace that," Northern coach Barry Crawford said.
Northern's season ends at 16-8.
"I thought we'd be in the 15-16 win range when the season started, and that's where we ended," Crawford said. "We had a positive season. We're not going to dwell on one loss. Next year our primary goal will to be to get one of the top two seeds so whoever we play will have to come to our place."
NORTHERN BEDFORD (54): Oswalt 0 1-2 1, T. Pressel 4 1-1 9, Diehl 4 4-4 12, Over 5 1-2 14, Z. Pressel 4 0-4 9, Barnes 4 0-0 9, England 0 0-0 0, Ebersole 0 0-0 0. Totals - 21 7-13 54.
CHESTNUT RIDGE (63): Brad Hengst 5 7-9 17, Little 1 3-4 5, Young 3 2-4 9, Pick 2 1-2 5, Bosch 7 5-9 19, Braden Hengst 3 0-0 8, M. Wiley 0 0-0 0, Weyant 0 0-0 0, Crist 0 0-0 0, Stultz 0 0-0 0. Totals - 21 18-28 63.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Northern Bedford11 10 9 24 - 54
Chestnut Ridge16 14 16 17 - 63
3-point goals: Northern Bedford 5 (Over 3, Z. Pressel, Barnes); Chestnut Ridge 3 (Braden Hengst 2, Young).
Records: Northern Bedford (16-8); Chestnut Ridge (18-5).
Officials: Sam Zambanini, Barry Saylor, Ted Oppegard.