FOLSOM >> Their motto rings out for all to hear on the first song of their pregame track.
Now, in the word’s of musician Drake, Ridley is going “back-to-back.”
Brett Foster turned in another monster performance, finishing with a game-high 20 points while Ridley utilized another momentous fourth quarter to pull away with a 54-50 victory over visiting Spring-Ford in the District 1-AAAA quarterfinals Friday night.
“It’s a great feeling (getting to the district semifinals two years in a row),” Foster said. “That was our goal when the season started and we’re glad we can get the job done in front of all these fans. They gave us all the energy we needed to pull out the win.”
Ridley will face Chester (49-33 winners over Central Bucks East) in the district semifinals Tuesday at Temple University’s Liacouras Center at 7:30 p.m. Friday night’s win marked just the fourth time in program history that the Green Raiders have advanced to the district’s Final Four, having only done so last season in 2003-2004 and 1986.
Once again, Ridley has Foster and company to thank for it.
Foster and Ryan Bollinger (11 points) came up big again in the fourth quarter, combining for 16 points in leading the Raiders on a 12-0 run to retake the lead after seeing a 15-point, early-game lead vanish moments into the fourth quarter.
It was the second consecutive occurrence of a late Raider surge, as Bollinger and Julian Wing teamed up to put Pioneer Athletic Conference opponent Perkiomen Valley away in the late stages of the district second round.
“We just had to come out with a lot of energy,” Foster said. “That’s what our coach wanted us to do. We came out, had a good first quarter but they kind of snuck back in there. We just kept playing hard.”
Spring-Ford senior Nigel Cooke finished with a team-high 17 points and 10 rebounds in the loss which drops the Rams into the 3-8 playback round with a date with Central Bucks East looming Tuesday night.
“He just doesn’t stop,” Spring-Ford head coach Chris Talley said of Cooke. “He’s got a motor that he brings out of necessity and there’s no drop off. I’m proud of his development over the past couple of years.”
Matt Gnias finished with 14 points for the Rams with Charles Drummond adding seven points and Cam Reid adding six points and five rebounds as the Rams battled back from a woeful shooting performance in the first quarter, which saw them fall into a 17-2 deficit after one.
“We have to get off to better starts and we have to finish,” Talley said. “We had a lot of good looks tonight that we didn’t cash in on. You can’t get down 15-2 or whatever it was and expect in the quarterfinals of District 1 to use all that energy and come back and win.”
A switch to the press defense turned the tide in Spring-Ford’s favor, forcing Ridley into six second-quarter turnovers which helped the Rams trim the deficit to 21-19 at the half before taking their first lead of the game early in the fourth after a Drummond 3-pointer made it 33-32.
“They don’t get pressed a lot because they have quick guards,” Talley said. “Sometimes teams are afraid to press them but they’re not used to getting pressed and sometimes they struggle from it. That was our thought process. It worked, it was effective and it got us back in the game. We just can’t get down that much that early.”
“Our offense led to all of our troubles on defense (in the second quarter),” Ridley head coach Mike Snyder said. “They were getting steals, we were making bad decisions. They were coming down with quick shots and we couldn’t play defense if we kept turning the ball over. I said (at halftime), ‘Listen, if we can just get our offense together, we’ll be OK.’”
His words rang true.
After Drummond’s 3-pointer to give the Rams the lead in the fourth quarter, Julian Wing, who had been in foul trouble most of the night, tied it at 33 with a free throw.
The floodgates then opened.
Following Cooke’s layup that made it 35-33, Bollinger drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner before Liam Thompson drilled his only bucket of the night, a 3-pointer from the right elbow, to make it 39-35. Kylon Hicks’ layup extended it to 41-35 before Bollinger capped off the late-game run with another 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 44-35 before free throws sealed it.
“This is a resilient group,” Talley said of his team. “These kids haven’t given up all year no matter what the score is, they play hard they never think they’re out of the game. Until the last buzzer sounded, they were scrambling. I’m proud of them.”
NOTES >> Wing finished with 12 points in the win. … The Green Raiders shot 9-for-18 from the foul line with Spring-Ford finishing 6-for-10. … Spring-Ford had eight 3-pointers, Ridley had six.