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NEW PORT RICHEY — Thursday night’s game between Ridgewood and Hudson resembled a boxing match more than a basketball game.
With 52 fouls called, including two technicals and a flagrant-2, the Rams were able to overcome a bruising style to topple its Class 5A, District 8 rival 69-46.
The message was sent early when Ridgewood (5-2, 4-1) went up 16-4 in the first quarter behind pinpoint outside shooting from guards Brandon Green and Tristan Ficarro. The duo combined for five of the six 3-pointers the Rams knocked down, three in the opening period.
“It was important for us to land the first punch,” Ridgewood coach Derek Delgardo said. “If this game went back and forth, there’s no telling how it would have turned out.”
Even with a strong start, Hudson (2-5, 2-2) wouldn’t go away. Foul trouble hindered Ridgewood as Green, Max Livingstone, Brandon Lorentsen, and Joshua Sojka found themselves on the bench at some point.
Starting power forward Livingstone was replaced by Sojka, who eventually fouled out in the third quarter, forcing Livingstone back into the game. He gave the Rams almost the entire second half of minutes while playing with four fouls. He was still able to accrue 15 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and three blocks.
“Our inability to rebound wasn’t about size differential,” Hudson coach Jason Vetter said. “There was a lack of effort tonight, and we need to work on that.”
The Ridgewood offense came at Hudson both inside and outside. Green (16 points) and Ficarro (17 points, eight rebounds) were effective, while Livingstone and Lorentsen (eight points, eight rebounds, four blocks) handled the paint. Lorentsen, who has been dealing with a 102-degree fever, fought hard.
Hudson’s second-half run came in the form of effort from leaders Bryce Durham and Zack Petersen. Durham, who had only one point at the half after being benched, finished with 16 points and three steals. Petersen had 15 points and three steals.
The battle ended in unfortunate fashion. Ridgewood substitute Matt Neimann, on the floor with the Rams up 23 with eight seconds remaining, attempted to block Hudson guard Alex Lovell’s shot. After the miss, he pushed Lovell down, forcing the referees to call a flagrant two and eject him. Delgardo said the team would handle discipline internally in addition to whatever penalty the FHSAA required.
“That’s not how we play ball at Ridgewood,” Delgardo said.