Although the score at the time wasn’t close enough for it to qualify as a turning point, the start of the third quarter did represent Andrew McClellan’s utopian vision of how he wants his team to play this season.
“With our skill level, when we share the ball I think we can be special,” said McClellan, the head coach of the Ridgefield High boys basketball team, following Wednesday night’s 70-57 home victory over Trinity Catholic. “Those first four minutes of the second half showed that.”
Ahead 34-21 at halftime, Ridgefield began the third quarter on a 15-6 run that stretched its lead to 49-27 with just over three minutes left in the period. Guards James St. Pierre and Chris Knachel combined for all but two of the Tigers’ points during the spurt.
“I loved how we were in attack mode. I loved how we shared the ball and took good shots,” said McClellan about his team’s start to the third quarter. “That was how I know we can play.”
“We are always looking for the extra pass that can result in an open shot,” said St. Pierre, who led Ridgefield with 21 points. “That’s something we work on in practice, and I thought we did a good job with that tonight.”
While McClellan was fond of his team’s second-half start, its first-quarter performance wasn’t too shabby, either. Taking advantage of Trinity’s missed shots and turnovers, Ridgefield opened a 15-4 lead and was ahead 18-9 at the end of the period.
Luke McGarrity’s basket put the Tigers in front 27-12 midway through the second quarter before 6’5” sophomore Akim Joseph drove for an emphatic dunk that infused some spark into Trinity’s dormant offense. Joseph added a jumper from the top of the key and later sank two free throws as the Crusaders went on a 9-5 run. But McGarrity found a gulf in the Trinity defense and deposited a buzzer-beating layup to give Ridgefield its 34-21 halftime advantage.
Any remaining intrigue disappeared when Ridgefield played its best basketball of the night at the start of the third quarter and opened a 20-point lead, 57-37, entering the final eight minutes.
McClellan pulled most of his starters with 3:56 left in the fourth quarter and the Tigers ahead 66-45. Trinity then scored 12 of the next 16 points to make the final score closer than McClellan cared for.
“I didn’t like how we played during the last 12 minutes of the game,” he said. “We made some silly turnovers and hoisted some bad shots. That happens a lot in high school basketball when a team goes up by 20 [points].”
Notes: Knachel finished with 13 points for Ridgefield, which is now 2-0 this season. Matthew DeLuca added nine points and Cameron Andry and McGarrity each had eight points.
The Tigers hit 10 three-pointers, with four of those coming from St. Pierre.
Joseph led Trinity (1-2) with 18 points. Ras Fisher added 12 points, while Xavier Ruillano had 11 points and Anthony Anderson contributed seven points (all in the first quarter).