New Richmond’s depth and scoring balance was not enough to overcome the up-and-down style of play Ripley employed on Friday night as the Blue Jays escaped the the Lion’s Den with a 57-55 win to start the boys basketball season. After a slow start, scoring-wise, both teams settled into their games in the second quarter. Ripley played with a reckless abandon, getting out and running at every opportunity which forced New Richmond out of their comfort zone. The Lions showed that when they were playing their game, they could hang with the Blue Jays, getting sophomore forward John Ernst going down low with a couple of first half scores. The Blue Jays kept the pressure on New Richmond with their transition offense in the first half. Breaking off missed shots, the Jays’ initial fast breaks were aided by their secondary breakers coming down the floor late and spotting up for open three-point attempts. No one took more advantage of these secondary breaks than Ripley’s Jordan Mitchell. Mitchell found space on numerous occasions as the Lions scrambled back on defense to get his shot off, good for 11 first-half points. Even with Ripley dictating the tempo of the game, New Richmond did well to stay within striking distance, going on a few spurts that would keep them within six points at halftime, 30-24. Coach Brian McMonigle and his staff made some necessary adjustments at the half and the Lions came out firing in the third quarter. With 2:15 remaining in the quarter, New Richmond’s Chris Turner stole the ball and scored on a break-away lay-up to tie the game at 35 apiece. Ripley was able to regain their composure and scored six straight points on lay-ups to give themselves a three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Blue Jays jumped out to a 50-42 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Ernst again made his presence known with five minutes remaining as the Lions had a dominating possession that saw Ernst score two baskets while being fouled. He would miss both free throws, but the Lions were able to secure the offensive rebound after each miss. In the end, the Lions were able to get five shots on the one possession, along with two fouls on Ripley’s big men and cut the lead to 50-48. With the home crowd at full throat, the Lion defense stepped up, frustrating Ripley’s potent offense and forcing turnovers. Unfortunately for New Richmond, the stout defense was unable to translate into points as the Lions had some good looks at the basket, but couldn’t get anything to drop. As time wound down, New Richmond’s Nick Hill had a pass picked off by Mitchell who took it the length of the floor and made a lay-up with a foul. Mitchell missed the free throw, but the Blue Jays still held a 52-48 lead. New Richmond went back to their work horse, Ernst, who scored two more baskets, but he was unable to convert on his free-throw after drawing a foul and making the lay-up, leaving the game tied at 52 with 1:40 left. Ripley answered the next time down the floor as Mitchell was fouled in the act of shooting. The 5-foot-9 senior guard calmly sank both free throws to give Ripley a two-point lead. Following a time out, Ripley changed up their defense, showing zone to a New Richmond offense that was expecting man-to-man. Coach McMonigle was forced to use his last timeout with 1:14 remaining and down two. Unable to score on their possession, New Richmond was forced to foul Ripley’s Michael Haley with 28.9 seconds remaining. Haley made one of his two foul shots, extending the lead to four points, 56-52. New Richmond still wasn’t finished as junior guard Evan McKinley hit a three pointer with 10 second remaining to cut the lead to one. New Richmond put on a full-court press in hopes of stealing Ripley’s inbounds pass, but the Blue Jays’ Logan Perkins was able to secure the pass and force the Lions to foul him. Perkins missed both foul shots and as the Lions tried to advance the ball up-court, Mitchell picked off the pass. Mitchell could only hit the second of two free throws, giving the Blue Jays a two-point lead with 2.4 seconds remaining. Interestingly for Ripley, coach Marty Adams called timeout, giving the Lions the chance to draw up a play. The Blue Jays played man-to-man defense, keeping themselves between the New Richmond players and the hoop so as not to give up any easy baskets. New Richmond was unable to advance the ball very far and as time expired, Austin Wells heaved a three-quarter-court shot that was unable to hit rim, ending the game with a score of 57-55. The story of the game was free throw shooting. Ripley went two-for-six in the last minute and a half, keeping New Richmond in the game. However, Ernst went 0-7 from the stripe for the game, something that the Lions will have to work on if they want to win close games as the season progresses. New Richmond hosted Felicity on Tuesday and will head to Clermont Northeastern on Friday night. Ripley (1-0) – Bradford 1 1 3, Mitchell 6 3 19, Haley 1 2 4, Perkins 7 8 23, Bennett 2 0 5, Arnett 0 2 2, Kirschner 0 1 1. Totals: 17 17 57. New Richmond (0-1) – Craig 3 1 7, Nort 2 0 4, Hill 2 1 5, Turner 4 0 9, Gundler 1 0 2, Ernst 7 0 14, Wells 0 1 1, Leffler 1 3 5, McKinley 3 0 8. Totals: 23 6 55. 3-pointers: R 5 (Mitchell 4, Bennett); N 3 (McKinley 2, Turner).
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