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5A region basketball: Ridgewood leads early but can't get coach to final

TAMPA — After 22 seasons, Gary Anders wasn't ready to say if he had coached his last game for Ridgewood.

He stood outside of the visitors' locker room holding the door as his players left one by one. Rams senior Alvin Satram hugged Anders one last time and cried.

Ridgewood's last three seasons have ended premature of expectations, the latest a 44-37 loss Tuesday at King in a Class 5A region semifinal.

The season is over and life will go on, but Anders' long-term path remains unclear.

"I should be at work (this morning)," Anders said with a laugh. "I don't know (about retiring). I think about a lot of things almost every day. I don't know, I really don't know."

Two of Anders' five children sat in the bleachers long after most of the gymnasium had emptied. They appeared stuck, presumably soaking in the image of their father pacing the sideline one final time.

If so, they will talk fondly of the 534 career wins and 17 teams he coached to 20 wins or more, though they never took him beyond the region semifinals.

The Rams (26-3) opened with a 15-7 lead in the first quarter, sparked by a 3-pointer from senior Lukas Poderis (nine points), and 3-pointers from Satram (six points) and junior Jacob Rauh (team-high 10 points).

Ridgewood, which led by as many as 12 early in the second quarter, shut down King forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick in the first two quarters. He entered the game averaging 14.4 points, but was shut out in the first half and was held to four for the game.

But Fitzpatrick provided a third-quarter spark with a strong move inside to cut Ridgewood's lead to 24-21. The Lions (22-6) took the lead for good on a shot by sophomore Chauncey Day, who scored a game-high 12.

The win earned King its first trip to a region final in a season when it won its first playoff game.

"When (Fitzpatrick's) not scoring points he'll do other things," King coach Sam Lanier said. "… He's a guy that's really hard to stop."

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5A region basketball: Ridgewood leads early but can't get coach to final 02/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 11:12pm]
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