Unselfish Lions grab title
NEW PARIS — There were plenty of things for second-year Chestnut Ridge boys basketball coach Matthew Claar to be pleased about Wednesday night, after his Lions won the de facto District 5 Class 3A championship.
At the top of the list was Ridge’s scoring balance.
The Lions placed all five of their starters in double figures and broke open a close game over the second and third quarters for a 63-47 victory over county rival Everett at Chestnut Ridge High School’s Richard W. Fisher Gymnasium.
Senior guard Isaac Little led the way for Ridge with 15 points, while sophomore guard Matt Whysong added 14. Junior forward Logan Pfister, senior forward Noah Hillegass and senior guard Kam Clapper each chipped in 10 apiece for Ridge, which improved to 13-10 and will advance to play District 9 champion Brookville in a District 5-9 subregional championship game Saturday at 3 p.m. at Clearfield Area High School.
“Five guys in double figures really shows how unselfish we were,” Claar said. “Our players were willing to share the ball.”
Ridge carried the second quarter, 17-10, to take a 33-25 halftime lead and broke the game open by ruling the third quarter, 19-9, to carry a 52-34 advantage into the final period.
“We’ve had a long layoff since our last game, and I think we started out a little slow tonight — it may have been a combination of nerves and rust,” Claar said. “But as we got more into the game, everybody relaxed and played better.
“We played really well in the second quarter. Our defense started clicking, and at that point, we were able to gain a little bit of separation.”
After senior Hunter Browning’s layup pulled Everett to within 24-23, Ridge closed the second quarter with a 9-2 run to gain the upper hand in the game.
Pfister, who collected a game-high nine rebounds, scored on a putback, and Hillegass hit two free throws to make it a 28-23 game. Little’s runner from the low key put Ridge ahead, 30-23, and after a field goal by Everett senior Seth Price, Ridge closed the first half strong when Clapper drained a 3-pointer from the right wing.
“In the second quarter, we were so focused on taking away the paint that we gave up some 3s,” said first-year Everett coach Martin Lichty, whose team put the wraps on a 13-10 season.
Ridge continued its roll in the third quarter, building a 20-point, 52-32 lead by putting together a 19-7 run. After Pfister’s inside bucket started the ball rolling, Clapper and Whysong both rifled in 3-pointers. Whysong followed with a field goal off the drive, and Hillegass scored from inside to put Ridge ahead, 45-30.
Two free throws by Little, a layup by Pfister after a Ridge steal, a Whysong free throw and another inside bucket by Hillegass capped off the surge.
“I thought their guards made some plays in the third quarter that made it difficult for us, and we never recovered,” Lichty said. “They got the majority of the loose balls, and they outrebounded us by a large margin.”
Little felt that Ridge — which led only 16-15 after one quarter — amped up its tempo over the second and third quarters.
“We started out a little slow, but we picked it up in the second quarter, and we had a good third quarter,” Little said. “We were pushing the pace. We were able to play at our pace more, go faster, and we got some good fast-break opportunities.”
Whysong felt that the Ridge team settled in as the game went along.
“I think we shook the nerves off,” Whysong said. “We became comfortable, and we were working together as a team.”
Junior forward Brandon Mills scored a game-high 16 points and Price added 13 for Everett, which broke in four new starters this season.
“For the most part, I was pleased with how our kids performed this year,” Lichty said. “The effort was everything that I could have asked, and the players did the best that they could, which is all that you can ask of them as a coach.”
Claar is happy that his Ridge team is moving on against District 9 champion Brookville.
“We’re ready for the challenge of stepping out of our area and playing another high-quality team,” Claar said.
EVERETT (47): Seese 4 1-1 9, Mearkle 0 2-2 2, Weaver 2 0-0 5, Price 6 1-2 13, Mills 7 2-3 16, Browning 1 0-0 2, Robinson 0 0-0 0. Totals — 20 6-8 47.
CHESTNUT RIDGE (63): I. Little 5 2-2 15, Whysong 6 1-5 14, Clapper 4 0-0 10, Pfister 4 2-2 10, N. Hillegass 4 2-2 10, H. Little 0 0-0 0, J. Hillegass 1 0-0 2, Nicodemus 1 0-0 2, Claar 0 0-0 0. Totals — 25 7-11 63.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Everett 15 10 9 13 — 47
Chestnut Ridge 16 17 19 11 — 63
3-point goals: Everett 1 (Weaver); Chestnut Ridge 6 (I. Little 3, Clapper 2, Whysong).
Records: Everett (13-10); Chestnut Ridge (13-10).
Officials: Rod Jarvis, Mike Baughm, Sam Zambonini.