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Rams get revenge against Wildcats

Ridgewood's inside and outside play by Andrew Reed, Mike Blum and Chris Gunter lifts it past state-ranked Wesley Chapel 65-43.

GREG AUMAN
Published January 17, 2004

WESLEY CHAPEL - Last month, the defending Sunshine Athletic Conference champions, Ridgewood, lost to Wesley Chapel on its homecourt for the first time. But Friday's rematch wasn't about the Rams getting off the mat. This was about them putting the Wildcats there.

Ridgewood got 17 points from center Andrew Reed and a dominating night from its guards, stunning Wesley Chapel, ranked No. 9 in the Class 4A state poll, 65-43.

"I've been waiting for the kids to get a win in a big game against a really good opponent," Rams coach Gary Anders said.

"That's what we got."

Ridgewood's guards weren't a factor during the first meeting. But they scored the Rams' first 13 points, including two 3-pointers by Mike Blum and another by Chris Gunter, who finished with 15 points.

Anders said he was pleased with his guards, not only with the way they set the tone for the game, but with the way they did not back down after that.

"You've got to have good balance, so everybody doesn't just sag in on Andrew. And (the guards) have gotten better all the time," said Anders, whose team improved to 10-3. "We've challenged them in practice. They've been challenged in the newspapers, and they're responding like we'd like seniors to respond."

The game featured (Pasco County's top scorers in Reed and Wesley Chapel guard Chase Bussey, but that matchup was no closer than the scoreboard. The 6-foot-7 Reed was a force in the paint and had four dunks, including a reverse number that had the crowd screaming.

But Bussey, blanketed defensively by Brendan Geronimo, struggled to find his shot, getting four of his eight points during the final two minutes.

"We were mad about what happened last game, and we knew we would win if we could come out and play the way we played," Gunter said. "We wanted to put a hand in everyone's face and make sure they had no open jumpers."

Wesley Chapel (12-2) was outscored in every quarter and beaten in two areas - perimeter shooting and transition points - that normally are its strengths.

After starting the season 10-0, the Wildcats have lost two of four, dropping them out of the lead in the Sunshine Athletic Conference and into a tie for the district lead.

"We just got our butts kicked (Friday), plain and simple," coach Doug Greseth. "They ran the floor better than we did. They were more aggressive. They looked for the open shot more than we did. We can go right down the line with this. I'm very disappointed and very surprised."

Both teams have tough games Tuesday, with Wesley Chapel playing at Pasco and Ridgewood at Mitchell.

The Wildcats and Rams likely will meet again in the championship of the District 10 tournament Feb. 21 at Ridgewood.

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