Hudson’s boost flows into another Ridley win

RIDLEY TWP. — The shift change queuing on the Ridley bench didn’t seem to make sense at first glance.

Midway through a stop-start second quarter, with Ridley leading Upper Darby by one, Ridley coach Kevin Kelly opted for a hockey-style line change — four up from the bench, four starters to the pine. With offensive execution in desperately short supply, a change of pace might do the trick.

Ridley’s Enoch Clark puts a shot up in the third quarter against Upper Darby. Clark scored 16 points as the Green Raiders won their seventh straight game, 57-54. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

In came undersized big Jalen Hudson, along with reserve guards Samir Neal and Aaron Tillery. And the momentum of the game changed with them.

Ridley scored 12 of the final 13 points of the half and stretched the lead as wide as 13 in the fourth before holding on to topple Upper Darby, 57-54, and earn their seventh straight win.

The separation was provided by Hudson, who had four points in nine games entering Friday. He matched that by hitting a mid-range jumper and knocking down a pull-up from 18 feet. He also did the more expected dirty work, grabbing five rebounds and blocking a shot.

“Jalen, he’s a real good energy player,” forward Enoch Clark said. “He’s a person that gives us energy. He encourages us, he really gives us that spark to give us that energy and he’s a great teammate.”

“It was a big boost for Jalen to come in and knock those shots down,” said guard Nasir Santiago. “We weren’t really expecting him to make those shots, but when those shots fall, it gives a huge spark because he’s a great player overall.”

Add a Tillery runner and Ridley turned a 13-12 edge into a 25-15 bump at half.

The third-quarter move was assembled by Santiago and Clark. The latter dominated the post battle with Upper Darby’s Kymir Roper. Though a rugged shooting day at 5-for-17, Clark tallied 16 points and 13 rebounds, and his low-post defense limited Roper to four points before he fouled out.

“I knew from the beginning that he was going to be a physical player and he was going to try to get in my head,” Clark said of Roper. “My whole goal was to not let anything get in my head, just to play my game.”

Santiago did the same on the perimeter, where he’s developed into a ball-handling option to spell Malachi Williams. Santiago scored 12 of his game-high 19 points in the first half, needing just nine field-goal attempts. While Ridley (12-5, 7-5) committed 23 turnovers and struggled to nurse its lead, Santiago struck the right balance with drives to the glass and constant feeding of Clark. It also led to Ridley attempting just four 3-pointers.

“We’re not a jump-shooting team,” Santiago said. “We look forward to going into the paint, being really aggressive and we’ve got to attack the rim. If not, we’ve got to rely on the shooters, but if they’re not making shots, we have to rely on our big man and hope he’s knocking down shots.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Upper Darby at Ridley

Clark hit back-to-back buckets in the third quarter, then Williams dished to Meese Tobey to give Ridley its largest lead at 38-25. It would prove to need most of those points.

A 6-0 run by Shareef Jones ended the third to get Upper Darby within striking distance at 38-31. On a day when the Royals (7-8, 6-6) struggled with foul trouble, offensive rhythm proved elusive. Leading scorer Mamadou Toure fouled out with 4:58 to go, just 30 seconds after he hit his first shot. He notched a quiet eight points, and with Roper muted, the Royals turned to overly optimistic 3-point looks.

“I feel like we’re shooting too many 3s, kind of,” said guard Diby Keita, who led the way with 18 points. “We should play more inside out, trying to drive first and then kick, and play outside in.”

Clark hit an and-1 with 1:50 to play to put Ridley up 50-39, but the Royals didn’t go quietly. Aided by three 3-pointers from Justin Ritter in the final two minutes, UD got within three at 52-49. But a turnover and a missed 3 by Keita was interspersed with four Williams free throws, and while Iyan Joshuasville canned a 3 with three seconds to play, Ridley let time expire without having to inbound.

The loss slows a run for UD, which had won five of six. It entered outside the playoff spots in District 1 Class 6A in 26th for the 24-team field. But after peaking last year to book a states trip, Keita isn’t worried about one hiccup.

Ridley guard Nasir Santiago rises for two of his game-high 19 points in a 57-54 win over Upper Darby Friday. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

“Same thing happened last year,” He said “We bounced back and got to the Central League playoffs and states. So I’m not worried at all.”

Ridley stands to move up from 22nd, aided by the confidence of its winning streak.

“It’s been great. It’s been a great experience,” Clark said. “We’re moving on to bigger and better things, and we’ve improved since last year, so it’s great.”

Also in the Central League:

Penncrest 57, Marple Newtown 32 >> Matt Arbogast scored 16 points, and Malcolm Williams and Marquis Tomlin added 14 apiece as a balanced effort led the Lions (13-5, 9-3).

Tommy Gardler led Marple Newtown (4-13, 2-10) with 15 points.

Conestoga 58, Garnet Valley 56 >> Greg Vlassopoulos bounced back from being shut out by Penncrest to score a game-high 23 points, but the Jaguars’ look to win it at the buzzer fell short. Neil Beniwal added 12 points, and Carl Schaller had 11 for the Jags (12-5, 8-4).

Radnor 62, Springfield 37 >> Jack D’Entremont scored 13 points, and Lewis Robinson and Doug Campbell tossed in 11 apiece as 12 players found the score sheet for Radnor (9-8, 5-7).

Brian Ward led Springfield (0-18, 0-12) with 15 points. Cole Rhodes added 13.

Lower Merion 61, Haverford 49 >> John Seidman and Danny Roe scored 16 points each, but 25 points from Steve Payne proved too much for Haverford (9-7, 6-6) to overcome.

In the Inter-Ac League:

Haverford School 74, Germantown Academy 56 >> There’s no stopping Christian Ray, who erupted for 36 points as the Fords shook off a sluggish opening quarter by outscoring the Patriots 46-25 over the middle two frames to put the game away.

Jameel Brown and Jameer Nelson added 14 points each for Haverford (19-0, 7-0).

Episcopal Academy 59, Penn Charter 52 >> Matt Dade was excellent again with 25 points, and light-scoring John McElwee burst out for a career-high 12 points to lead EA (10-11, 3-4).

In the Catholic League:

Roman Catholic 83, Archbishop Carroll 62 >> Luke House scored 15 points, and Anquan Hill added 12, but all five Roman starters were in double-figures as the Patriots (9-8, 5-4) plummeted to a fourth straight loss.

In the Bicentennial League:

Delco Christian 60, Faith Christian 46 >> Tyler Rossini hit three 3-pointers in the second quarter to spark a 25-13 edge for DC that proved decisive. Rossini scored 17 points, Jackson Piotrowski added 15 and Jacob Bronkema chipped in 12 for the Knights (9-7, 4-6).

Dock Mennonite 70, Christian Academy 46 >> Tehron Phillips scored 15 points and Jourdan Greene added nine, but the Crusaders (8-6, 6-4) saw a two-game winning streak halted.

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