NEW PORT RICHEY — Before Ridgewood's semifinal against Riverview at the Ram Classic on Tuesday, Rams coach Gary Anders questioned if his players if were ready. They responded by saying they were focused on the task at hand.
A convincing 71-55 Rams win backed that up and the Rams clinched a berth in tonight's championship game.
"I was really happy with the kids' attitudes tonight," Anders said. "And it is always good when you see the kids react. They didn't say a word and I asked them before the game, 'Are you ready?' and they all said, 'Coach, we're focused,' and I am really happy they accepted the challenge and were able to hang on to the ball game."
A scene reminiscent of Monday's game against Palm Harbor University looked as if it play out Tuesday versus Riverview (6-5). The Rams jumped out to another huge lead and watched the 16-point cushion dwindle to eight in the third quarter with 5:06 remaining after a layup by the Sharks' Brandon Samuel, who finished with 21 points.
But Ridgewood would not suffer from deja vu and less than a minute and a half later, senior guard Charles Jones (16 points, two assists) dunked over Sharks forward Jamal Evans. Ridgewood outrebounded Riverview 29-23 and forced 13 turnovers, but turned over the ball 19 times.
"Honestly, I think they just outmanned us tonight," Riverview coach Dwayne Perry said.
In the earlier semifinal, Brandon defeated George Jenkins 53-44 in a roller-coaster contest. The victory sets up a 2008 region semifinal rematch, in which the Eagles defeated Ridgewood on Anders Court 61-57.
Brandon held George Jenkins to six second-quarter points and were led offensively by Travis Green's 14 first-half points to take a 22-19 edge going into halftime. Green finished with 24.
The second half showcased Brandon's free-throw shooting as the Eagles went 13-of-16 from the line compared with their 2-of-5 effort in the first half.
"The first five or six games we were struggling from the free-throw line," Brandon coach Allie Turley said.
In the earlier consolation games, St. Petersburg Catholic defeated Land O'Lakes 45-40 and Zephyrhills bounced back to take care of Palm Harbor University 50-46 behind 13 points from Kyle Farrell.