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Rams learn to bounce back

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 15, 2002

NEW PORT RICHEY -- Ridgewood gave its best effort of the season Friday night and lost a 60-58 heartbreaker in overtime to bigger, stronger, faster Sarasota Riverview.

On Saturday, the Rams came out flat, emotionally and physically drained, turned in their worst effort of the season, and won 51-38 over Academy of the Holy Names.

Thus host Ridgewood went 1-1 at the Ashley Morrison Memorial Lady Ram Shootout, named for the player who died in December 2000 and who would have been a senior on this season's team.

Land O'Lakes also went 1-1, edging Holy Names 44-41 Friday before falling 68-42 to Sarasota Riverview Saturday. The annual tournament has always been a learning experience for Ridgewood, and first-year coach Greg Bollinger said it was again. On Friday, the Rams learned they can compete with more athletic, more physical teams such as Riverview, but must finish the game. On Saturday, Ridgewood learned how to win when not at its best, banged up mentally and physically, and playing under adverse conditions.

"We try to learn something from every game," Bollinger said. "(Friday) night we learned how important free throws are, and that even though we're tired, we always have to work on our fundamentals.

"We turned it over a lot, but last night we played the type of team we hope to see outside of the district tournament, a team that is fast and strong and can press and that we don't see a lot of in Pasco County."

Against Class 6A Riverview (7-0), Ridgewood took a 31-14 halftime lead and then squandered a 17-point lead in the second half. In the fourth, the Rams allowed their foes to tie the game after going a dismal 10 of 22 at the line in that quarter and scoring one field goal.

Sarasota Riverview won the overtime 7-5, as Shantia Grace scored five of her 34 points in the extra period and 23 in the fourth. That's why Ridgewood looked so flat against Holy Names (5-3).

Yet the Rams (5-1) still took a 25-14 halftime lead Saturday. Point guard Crystal Ayers, who had 21 Friday, led the team with 11, going 3-for-3 at the line in the fourth to score five in the quarter. Jen Barrett had 16 Friday and four Saturday. Jamie Surmin pitched in nine Saturday.

"We had girls who were banged up, bruised up, who were tired physically and mentally," Bollinger said, "and to have to come and play less than 24 hours later, that's hard, and it showed. But we were able to fight through that and win."

Land O'Lakes (7-3) was led by Melissa White's 16 points Friday and 12 Saturday, dropping two 3-pointers in both. Roshaunda Washington scored five and 14, respectively, and hit three treys Saturday. The Gators were outscored 26-7 in the fourth Friday.

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