Ridgefield opens with 51-50 win over Byram Hills

On a night when its offense struggled, the Ridgefield High boys basketball team still had James St. Pierre.

St. Pierre’s two free throws with 11 seconds left lifted the Tigers to a season-opening 51-50 victory over Byram Hills (N.Y.) on Monday night at Ridgefield High.

St. Pierre, a senior shooting guard, finished with 24 points, including all 11 of Ridgefield’s points in the final quarter. He hit three three-pointers.

“James came up big for us,” said Ridgefield head coach Andrew McClellan. “We didn’t shoot the ball very well in the second half, so we needed every one of his points.”

Ridgefield led 30-24 at halftime and 40-38 going into the final quarter. After St. Pierre hit a three-pointer to put the Tigers ahead 49-47 with a little more than a minute to play, Byram Hills responded with a three-pointer of its own to take a 50-49 lead.

St. Pierre then drove to the basket and was fouled, hitting both free throws to give Ridgefield a 51-50 advantage.

Byram Hills, which entered the game with a 4-0 record, missed its next shot but got the ball back and called a timeout with 0.8 seconds left after Ridgefield missed a free throw. Chris Knachel then stole Byram Hills’ inbound pass from under the Ridgefield basket to end the game.

“Byram Hills is a very good team,” said McClellan. “It was our third straight year opening the season against them and this is our first win.”

The Tigers got the victory despite having a major height disadvantage.

“They have a 6’8” guy and another player who’s about 6’6”; they have no starters under 6’3,” said McClellan. “Our tallest starter was 6’1”, but our defense against their big guys was out of this world. They worked the ball inside, but we had great positioning and technique and were physical.”

Cameron Andry added 10 points for Ridgefield, and Knachel and Derek Szpakowski each had six points. Matt Misurelli contributed two points, while Luke McGarrity, Ryan Garson, and Yohann Britto added one point apiece. McGarrity’s playing time was limited due to foul trouble.

“It’s always nice to start the season with a win,” said McClellan. “We knew this was going to be a tough opener against a good team that had already played four games. I saw a lot that I was happy about.”