Ritter’s decision pushes Abington past Tennent
Jake Ritter didn’t even know he was wrestling until the second to last bout of the night. As far as he knew, his 113-pound weight class was going to be a forfeit. However, with the score 34-32 in favor of William Tennent with one bout to go, Ritter’s number was called and he answered he bell with a 7-3 decision to earn a decisive three points and the Abington win.
“I thought I was going to get a forfeit, so I wasn’t re- ally ready to wrestle, but I knew I had to pull through for my team to get the victory,” Ritter said. “When I took my first low-leg single and scored my first two points, it gave me the confidence to push through. It feels great to help my team win.”
The Ghosts won the Suburban One National Conference match 35-34. It was a match that they dominated for the most part, but a combination of talented wrestlers in the upper weight classes and forfeits put Tennent right back into it and then
some. While the Panthers dominated the higher weight classes, Abington a strong hold on the middle. It was the lower classes that made all the difference.
“We tried switching our 106 guy up to 113 to see how the match would go,” Tennent coach Joe Rigous said. “Our upper weight class guys did a nice job tonight. It was a good match. My heavy guys are all good, so we were confident there.”
Abington won all the bouts from 132 to 160. Mike Moltz (132) won a decision while not allowing Tennent’s Alex Szlanic a single point, while Mike McCaughry was the only Ghost to earn a win via pin at 138. Alex Winshiel (120) had the only technical fall victory of the night, winning the first bout of the match 15-0.
“We knew we were going to give up a few forfeits in the upper weight classes,” Abington coach John Gillespie said. “I think one of the key matches was McDonald’s bout at 152. He’s one of the kids I’m most proud of this season because he has worked really hard. This was the bout he needed, it was big for him. It was definitely an up-and-down match, like we expected.”
Although Tennent won the 220 and 285 classes due to forfeits, but 170 through 195 were physically dominated by the Panthers. Juan Maysonet (170), Rich Strain (182) and Cristobal Morales (195) all won with pins, the only three of the night for Tennent.
Abington originally wanted to forfeit the 113 class, but once the score got tighter, Gillespie decided to switch the remaining two bouts and give Ritter a shot to win the match for the Ghosts. Down just two points, Ritter needed the minimum of a win by decision. He did not disappoint. After Tennent’s Giovanni Scalfaro hung around for the first period, Ritter landed a couple of takedowns and reversals to separate himself from his opponent on the scoreboard. The clock ran out on Tennent and the Ghosts took the win.
“We have a lot of freshman in there,” Rigous said. “All in all, we got a good assessment out of the match. We got a good feel of what we need to work on. We are focused on the post season now.”
“I got great passes from Amar and just made an effort to get open and he found me,” Cooney said. “Our coach has a great game plan for us and we just try to execute it and we did tonight. I was in a rhythm and felt great out there.”
La Salle trailed late in the first quarter, as the Vikings (8-5, 3-2) held an 8-6 lead. But in the next nine-plus minutes, Wood only managed one free throw while going nearly the entire second quarter without a basket, as the Explorers (11-4, 5-1) built up their lead to as many as 16 points late in the half.
“We played well in the first 2½ minutes, but their guards played well and we didn’t push the ball up the floor and unfortunately, our half-court execution was very poor,” Wood coach Jack Walsh said. “I think our defense kept us in the game, but you have to score points and that first half hurt us. We were in a rush and we started to panic.”
Though the Vikings, a Class AAA team, were facing one of the best Class AAAA teams in the area, the struggles were still a bit surprising for Wood, which had won 5 of 6 games entering the meeting with the Explorers.
Wood managed to step its game up offensively in the third and fourth quarters, cutting La Salle’s deficit to as few as four points after a 19-5 second half run was capped off by a Tommy Rush layup with less than a minute to play.
But despite some terrible fourth quarter free throw shooting by the Explorers, La Salle was able to shut the door on Wood’s comeback attempt.
“We smothered them in the first half and we knew they were going to make a run,” La Salle coach Joe Dempsey said. “We held a really good team down and Wood is one of the upper-echelon teams in the Catholic League. We knew they were going to make a poke at us and the trouble when you’re up 1415 points is that while you may not look down, you sometimes start playing not to lose rather than to win. There’s a fine line with high school kids and we played a little passively.”
The Explorers’ fourth quarter free throw shooting saw the team hit only 6 of 15 shots from the line, while hitting only 12 of 24 for the game.
“If we hit our foul shots, it’s obviously a different game,” Dempsey said. “But the kids had exams all week and this was their third game in five days and I think it was starting to catch up to them.”
The win was La Salle’s seventh in eight games, as well as their fifth in six PCL games this season.
The Explorers were led by the shooting of Cooney and the quickness of Stukes, the La Salle University-bound senior guard who finished with 16 points, three rebounds, six assists and three steals. Senior Ryan Winslow added five points and five rebounds, while junior Steve Smith added a gamehigh 11 rebounds.
Cooney’s 20 points were a personal season high.
“Pat has been getting stronger every day,” Dempsey said. “His floor game is tremendous and we know he can shoot the ball. He’s a leader, he’s steady, he’s confident and he’s calm. He’s a good player and we’re fortunate to have him.”
On Wood’s side, junior Pat Smith and Rush each finished with 11 points, while junior Joe LoStracco added eight points and six rebounds.
Abington’s Jordan Simmons steals the ball from Council Rock North’s Chris Rowland during Tuesday’s Suburban One National Conference action.
Abington’s Mike Rubin wrestles William Tennent’s Alister McDonald in the 152-pound class during Wednesday’s Suburban One National Conference meet.