Tuesday, January 14, 2014
A fierce comeback by Ashley Ridge was overshadowed by a clutch overtime performance by Stratford.
The Knights outscored the Swamp Foxes 19-11 in overtime Friday to claim a 69-61 victory. Stratford improved to 13-3 with the win while Ashley Ridge fell to 5-8.
“If we would have just played better for about 10 minutes,” Ashley Ridge coach Brian Welch said. “We had a poor first quarter and a poor finish to the overtime. I’m proud of our fight, but we need to tighten up the little things that we have to do to be successful against good teams like that.”
Demetrae Rivers and Antonio Stinson both hit a pair of 3-point shots in the opening period to lift the Knights to an 18-4 lead. Ashley Ridge’s Tray Jenkins, Corbin Landers and Tyquan Tucker combined for 14 points in the second period, but the Swamp Foxes trailed by 12 points entering the half.
“We came out and had an awful first quarter so as a coaching staff we challenged our kids hard and to their credit they responded well,” Welch said. “They fought and fought and fought to get back in the game. Stratford is a good team so it took three quarters but we got back in it.”
Ashley Ridge cut the lead to seven in the third period, but then Rivers hit a shot from behind the arc at the buzzer for a 41-31 Stratford lead entering the fourth.
Led by Sean White, Ashley Ridge opened the next period with an 11-3 run to cut the lead to 2. With just under two minutes remaining in regulation, White made a steal and scored on the ensuing break. He drew an intentional foul on the bucket so Welch sent Landers to the line and he hit both free throws to tie the game at 46.
Rivers drove into the paint and scored but Andre Grant responded in kind on the other end of the court to tie the game again. Rivers put the Knights back on top again with a pair of free throws but then White drove in for a bucket and his ninth point of the period for a 50-50 score at the end of regulation.
Tucker hit two 3-point shots in overtime to give Ashley Ridge a 1-point lead. However, Rashad Palmer followed a Barry Wright bucket with a steal and scored on the break for a 59-56 Stratford lead with 1:19 remaining.
Ashley Ridge continued to fight and hit a couple of shots, but Rivers clinched the win for Stratford with eight free throws in the final 1:15 of play. Rivers finished with a game-high 31 points.
“He is tough,” Welch said. “Rivers is a D-1 kid who is 6-10 and the tallest kid we have is 6 foot so that was a challenge. But our kids were scrappy and got after it tonight. That is kind of our identity. We don’t give up and we certainly didn’t tonight.”
Tucker led Ashley Ridge with 15 points while both White and Landers added 13 for the Swamp Foxes.
Ashley Ridge opened region play Tuesday after press time with a game at Bluffton. On Friday, the Swamp Foxes host Fort Dorchester.
“If we can tighten things up we can be strong in region play,” Welch said. “We are young but we are getting varsity experience. They continue to learn about things that they may have gotten away with at the JV level but can’t get away with at the varsity level. The encouraging thing is the heart and desire I see in this team. These guys will fight until their dying breath.”
Stratford 69, Ashley Ridge 61 in OT
Ashley Ridge....... 4 16 11 19 11-61
Stratford................ 18 14 9 9 19-69
Ashley Ridge (61): Tyquan Tucker 15, Sean White 13, Corbin Landers 13, Grant 8, Jenkins 5, Jones 3, Smith 2, Garland 2.
Stratford (69): Demetrae Rivers 31, Thompson 9, Palmer 9, Stinson 8, Calvary 6, Wright 4, Givens 2.