ST. MARYS — Ridgway outscored Coudersport by eight in the fourth quarter, as Zack Zameroski hit the game-winning shot in the closing seconds and the Elkers secured a thrilling 52-50 victory to claim the District 9 Class AA title at St. Marys High School Thursday.
With the win, the Ridgway avenged a 66-46 defeat to Coudersport in last year’s Class AA title game, as it denied the Falcons a chance to win their third consecutive district title.
“The kids are so excited, they’ve worked hard and everybody thought last year’s team was ‘the’ team but we knew we had a pretty good team coming back from that,” Ridgway head coach Tony Allegretto said. “These guys wanted it bad, they worked hard and everybody stepped up and made a play somewhere along the line.”
The victory was also the Elkers second on the year over Coudy, which account for its only losses on the year.
Ridgway, just like it did in its regular season victory over the Falcons, as well as several other games this season, came from behind to secure the victory.
“We’ve been very resilient all year long,” Allegretto said. “We don’t give up and we just keep battling back and sticking with the system.”
The Elkers rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to win 57-56 at Coudy Jan. 4, as this time out they faced a six-point hole at 43-37 heading into the fourth quarter.
The second-seeded Elkers held Coudersport scoreless over the first four minutes and change in the fourth, as they opened the frame on a 7-0 run to retake the lead for the first time in the second half.
Parker Rohr got the scoring started with a basket, before Daunte Allegretto went 1 of 2 at the foul line then drained a three-pointer to tie the game at 43 with 6:06 left to play.
Allegretto drew another foul ahh the 4:03 mark to get Ridgway (24-3) into the bonus, as he converted the front end of the one-and-one, but missed the second as the Elkers took a 44-43 lead.
After Travis Gleason got the top-seeded Falcons on the board at the 3:18 mark of the fourth, Jake Reynolds hit a corner three to put Ridgway up by two with 1:51 remaining.
Like he did all night, Owen Chambers followed with a big shot for Coudersport (23-2), knocking down a three of his own just seven seconds after Reynolds’ trey to put the Falcons back on top.
After Ridgway’s initial shot attempt was off the mark on the other end, Rohr came up with a key offensive rebound and drew a foul on the play.
Rohr calmly converted both ends of the one-and-one to put the Elkers in front 49-48 with 1:23 left on the clock.
The Falcons looked to retake the lead on the other end, but lost the ball out of bounds on an arrant pass as Ridgway took over possession.
Coudy looked to come up with a key steal near mid-court, but instead it was Allegretto who chased down the loose ball and drew yet another foul.
The senior was unable to convert the front end at the line, as Zameroski tracked down the rebound and drew a foul, putting the Elkers into the double bonus.
Zameroski made 1 of 2 at the foul line to put Ridgway in front 50-48 with 59.6 seconds left.
Coudersport responded right away, as Hayden Keck got loose on the inside and scored an easy layup to tie the game with 51 seconds remaining.
The Elkers then ran down the clock, as Allegretto drove into the paint and dished off to Zameroski who used a ball fake to get around a Coudy defender and convert on the inside with five seconds remaining.
After a timeout, Coudy inbounded the ball from its own baseline with 3.3 seconds to work with, as Gleason’s runner from near mid-court was off the mark and the Elkers’ celebration began.
“We wanted to try to run the clock down a little bit more but we knew sooner or later they (Coudersport) would start creeping out,” Allegretto said of his team’s last offensive possession. “That was one of our game plans to break it down and hit that bounce pass, we’ve been practicing it all week and what a great time to do it.”
The district title is Ridgway’s first since 2014, when it defeated Elk County Catholic 48-41 to claim the Class A crown.
Both teams struggled to get on the board in the early going, as Keck recorded the Falcons’ first points with a bucket at the 5:42 mark before Will Thompson got Ridgway on tiger board 32 seconds later.
The teams traded scores from that point, as after eight minutes of action it was the Elkers who took a one-point lead (10-9) into the second quarter.
Both offenses got things rolling in the second quarter, as the two sides traded scoring runs throughout the frame.
First it was Coudy, who opened the second on a 5-0 run on a basket by Gleason and a three by Derek Easton to take its first lead of the game at 14-10.
After a quick 4-0 run by Ridgway, a three-point play by Chambers sparked a 5-0 run for the Falcons to put them ahead 19-14 with 5:02 left in the first half.
The Elkers battled back with a 6-0 run on a score by Zameroski and a pair of buckets from Matt Dush to jump back in front 20-19 at the 3:14 mark of the quarter.
After a trey by Coudy’s Daniel Frame, a score on the inside by Zameroski tied the game at 22 with 2:28 on the clock in the opening half.
Scores by Gleason and Keck, followed by a pair of free throws from Chambers then put the Falcons ahead by six inside the final minute of the half.
Rohr hit a buzzer-beating jumper to trim the deficit to four (28-24) heading into the half.
Rohr finished tied with Allegretto for a team-high in points at 12, while Zameroski also finished in double figures with 11 and Dush added eight.
Still trailing by four near the midway point of the third quarter, Allegretto drove hard to the basket and scored on the inside to trim the Falcons lead to two.
As Allegretto retreated to go on the defensive, he drew a shove from Coudy’s Kolby Vanwhy, who was assessed a technical on the play.
Allegretto was only able to hit one of the two free throws he was awarded and Ridgway was unable to score on the extra possession off the technical, as the Falcons maintained their slim lead.
Coudersport would later use a 7-0 run over the span of 49 seconds to stretch its lead to 41-33 with 1:37 left in the third.
A score by Rohr helped the Elkers cut the deficit to six (43-37) heading into the fourth quarter.
Chambers, who finished with a game-high 24 points, had 11 in the third quarter to help Coudersport add to its lead.
“I said if he (Chambers) gets 30 we’re in trouble, but if we could keep him around 20 I think we’ll be okay,” Allegretto said.
Allegretto told his team after the third quarter that Chambers was not going to be giving the ball up and to pinch in on him.
The Elkers must have abided by their coach’s message, as Chambers was limited to just three points in the fourth quarter.
Ridgway then opened the final frame on a 7-0 run and used a Zamersoki basket with five seconds to go to secure the thrilling two-point win.
The Elkers will now enter the PIAA playoffs as the top seed in the district, as Coudersport also moves on to the state playoffs as the district’s second seed.