NEW PORT RICHEY - Ridgewood coach Gary Anders didn't expect the emotion that came with the Rams' 58-51 win against Wesley Chapel in the District 10 championship.
"I didn't think after last year that any of them could come close to that run last year," said Anders, whose 2003 team won the district and made the regional final. "I didn't think anything would ever rival that, but this one ... I just don't believe it. The second half we played, I thought, was tremendous."
Ridgewood trailed by 11 in the second quarter and was down 41-34 midway through the third when it went a 10-2 run to end the quarter. The Rams (21-5) would not lead by more than three until the final 1:10, when they scored the final five.
"This is wonderful, a great start for the playoffs," said Ridgewood center Andrew Reed, who had 16 points and 13 rebounds. The Rams play host to Central on Thursday in a region quarterfinal.
Reed's game was huge, but it was Ridgewood's guards who steered the comeback. Mike Blum and Mike Prendergast hit 3-pointers in the third-quarter rally, and both hit free throws in the final 14 seconds. Guard Chris Gunter added 12 points.
Defensively, Ridgewood took away Wesley Chapel's perimeter game. The Wildcats hit five 3-pointers in the first half but one in the second.
"We had about five or six possessions at the end where we got good shots and just couldn't knock them down," Wesley Chapel coach Doug Greseth said. "I thought we played well, but we just went through a dry spell where we couldn't hit a shot."
The Wildcats' Chase Bussey, whose 15 points propelled them to a 35-28 halftime lead, went 1-for-7 in the fourth and finished with a game-high 21. Wesley Chapel, which has made the state semifinals the past two years, opens the playoffs Thursday at Clermont East Ridge.
- GREG AUMAN
4A-9: Central goes down
BROOKSVILLE - Clermont East Ridge defeated Central 79-65 to capture the District 9 title.
Andre Coleman led East Ridge with 18 points and Cory Godzinski added 17 as four Knights scored in double figures. The Knights used balanced scoring early with an aggressive press defense, allowing them to take control. They led 20-9 at the end of the first quarter.
East Ridge led by as many as 17 in the second and was up 34-21 at halftime. Central's Alex Ruoff scored a game-high 29, including his 1,000th career point on a reverse layup late in the third.
"I am very proud of our team. I'm very proud of (Ruoff)," Central coach John Sedlack said. "(Ruoff) is quite a player, we go as he goes. (East Ridge) has a lot of weapons; good size, experienced guards. They played hard all year. This game is about matchups, and we didn't matchup well with them tonight."
East Ridge led by as many as 26 in the third. Central then went on a 14-2 run and got within 60-46 early in the fourth. But the Knights offense was just too strong and they matched Central basket for basket late.