By Steve Robinson | March 6, 2018 - 10:09 pm
Posted in Category: Ridgeview, The Normalite

NORMAL – A third quarter comeback by Annawan turned out to be too much for Ridgeview as the Mustangs’ attempt to win the Illinois High School Super-Sectional at Redbird Arena on Illinois State University’s campus fell short, with the Braves emerging victorious, 39-32 before roughly 800 fans, the sides evenly divided.

The fans appeared to get the matchup they were expecting, as the first quarter was a seesaw affair, Ridgeview senior Jacob Donaldson and Annawan senior Owen Landwehr exchanging buckets to tie the game at 2-all soon after the opening tip. Donaldson and Annawan senior Dante Weathersby went basket for basket to tie the game, 4-all by the first quarter’s 4:53 mark. Landwehr hit a deuce to put the Braves up, 6-4, which Donaldson immediately countered with one of his own, tying the game, 6-all, at the 3:31 mark. Landwehr and Ridgeview sophomore Levi Zimmerman traded scores to tie the contest at 8-all with 2:42 in the quarter. Within the quarter’s last minute, a layup by Ridgeview senior Alex Tongate, followed by a trey from Annawan senior Jacob Wolf, followed by a deuce with 6.1 seconds left by Zimmerman gave Ridgeview a 12-11 lead to take into the second quarter.

Senior Justin Myers and Zimmerman added to that total to give Ridgeview (28-5) a 6-0 run to work with as the second quarter opened, prompting Annawan to call a timeout with 5:25 left in the quarter. After that, a foul by the Braves’ Landwehr sent Donaldson to the free throw line where he sank two shots, increasing the Mustangs’ lead, 18-11 with 4:45 left in the quarter. But a trey by Wolf pulled the Braves within four, 18-14, with 3:48 in the quarter.

One minute and 28 seconds later, Myers’ deuce pushed the Mustangs up, 20-14. But fans on both sides reacted when sophomore Julian Samuels hit a trey for Annawan with 1:24 until halftime to pull the Braves within three, 20-17. It was the lead the Mustangs would begin the third quarter on.

But when the third quarter began, a 6-0 run by Annawan (30-3) featuring back-to-back deuces by senior Ben Buresh followed by an unanswered deuce by Landwehr pushed the Braves ahead, 23-20 until a trey from senior Matthew Nunamaker tied the game, 23-all, with 3:33 in the quarter. Senior Brendon Shaw and Weathersby followed with unanswered deuces for Annawan, to give the Braves a 27-23 lead with 1:13 left in the quarter. Donaldson closed out the quarter with a deuce with three seconds left to keep Ridgeview within two, 27-25, going into the fourth quarter.

Ridgeview confounded Annawan early in the fourth quarter defensively prompting Braves head coach Alex Coppejeans to call a 30-second timeout a minute into the final quarter. Annawan was further perplexed by back-to-back Ridgeview baskets by senior Tyler Ridgeway, tying the game at 27, and then putting Ridgeview up by two, 29-27, at the 6:05 mark. A deuce by Shaw tied the game at 29, and a free throw by Weathersby put Annawan up by one, 30-29, and was followed by a trey by Wolf completing a 6-0 run which prompted Ridgeview to regroup during a timeout with 2:06 remaining.

But Annawan resumed from that point, increasing its lead with two free throws by Buresh, answering being fouled by Ridgeview. His free throws increased Annawan’s streak to 8 unanswered points and a 35-29 lead. Another Ridgeview foul sent Landwehr to the line with 44 seconds left, giving him the opportunity to add two more points, upping the Braves’ lead, 37-29.

Ridgeview got to the free throw line twice more due to Annawan fouls, sending Donaldson both times, where he went a combined 3-for-4, cutting the Braves’ advantage to five, 37-32. But it was one more Ridgeview infraction that sent Annawan’s Buresh to the line a final time with 23.5 seconds left, where he sank both ends of his turn resulting in the final score.

Landwehr was Annawan’s only player in double-figures with 10 points, with Buresh and Shaw coming close with 8 points, and 7 respectfully.

Donaldson was Ridgeview’s only player in double figures, with 13 points. Zimmerman tallied 6, followed by 4 each from Myers and Ridgeway. Nunamaker sank 3, followed by Tongate who had 2.

“I’m just so proud of our guys and I’m really happy for them,” Annawan’s Coppejeans told reporters afterward. “We were more concerned with guarding the paint and, honestly, Ridgeview has some guys who can really attack the rim really well. So, I thought we did a really nice job of closing out and rotating. Our team defense tonight was really spectacular.”

“We knew we had to be concerned about Myers and Donaldson because they’re really, really good players,” Coppejeans added. “And Coach Kellar has that ‘It’ factor as well with his program.”

Characterizing the fourth quarter as a struggle, Ridgeview head coach Rodney Kellar told reporters, “It’s hard to get shots if you don’t make shots. I thought we did our best to give ourselves a chance, but when you don’t get shots at the other end, it’s hard to keep up with them.” Kellar said he speculated it would probably be the first team scoring 40 points who would come away victorious.

“I thought we executed well to start the game,” Kellar added. “We came out and got good shots. In the third quarter, they made a good run at us and I’m really proud of our kids because they came back and got us even, and even had a two-point lead at one point.”

Kellar said he pointed out to his players at the outset they needed to keep Landwehr “out of the paint” and Buresh “off the boards.” Ridgeview did succeed from keeping Buresh from scoring until the second half.

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