LAND O'LAKES — Amid the ugliness of Saturday night's Class 5A, District 7 final, which featured 41 total fouls and 54 free throws, Ridgewood coach Gary Anders saw a sightly display of offensive versatility he could keep watching all night.
At times, it seemed he would be watching it all night.
A contest that began crisply regressed into a turnover-filled grudge match waged primarily at the free-throw line, with the Rams (25-2) prevailing 65-47 for their third consecutive district crown.
"That wasn't one of the prettiest wins or prettiest championships games I've seen in a while," said Anders, whose club attempted 25 free throws (converting 16) in the final period alone. "I thought both teams played hard. A lot of mistakes on both ends, but like (Land O'Lakes) coach (Dave) Puhalski said, it is what it is."
The first half was a near replicate of the Rams' 10-point win over the Gators three weeks ago. Land O'Lakes (17-10) again controlled the tempo with a patient half-court offense and trailed only 10-6 after one quarter.
But Rams junior C.J. Jones, who had 12 fourth-quarter points in that previous meeting, sank consecutive 3-pointers and added a layup on a nifty interior feed from Scott Kujak to give Ridgewood a 20-7 lead. His third trey of the night, with 2:20 to play in the third, gave the Rams a 39-19 advantage.
When Jones (18 points) wasn't flourishing from the perimeter, 6-foot-8 East Tennessee State signee Lukas Poderis (22 points) was scoring at will inside. During one span stretching across the second and third quarters, Poderis scored 11 of his team's 13 points.
"That's one of the things we've been happy with all year long, is offensive balance," Anders said. "We've had many games where we've had four guys in double figures."
Saturday, they had three, including point guard Alvin Satram (12 points). Kevin Burnell and Sean Cooper had 14 and 12, respectively, for the Gators.