|Staff photo by Tom Kelly IV/Coatesville's Andre Boggs drives down the lane on Saturday.|
By ANDY EDWARDS
CALN -- Leading by just two points late in the third quarter of Saturday’s Ches-Mont Final Four game, and Ethan Ridgeway continually torching his team, Coatesville head coach Rick Nelms received some advice from the home crowd.
"Ever heard of a box-and-one?" a fan shouted in the direction of the Red Raiders’ bench.
Nelms didn’t exactly take the fan’s words to heart, but he did make some adjustments. No matter the method, both went home happy.
Jaquan Hollingshed coupled a team-high 17 points with 12 rebounds and Coatesville uncorked a 21-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to turn a two-point nail-biter into a laugher and cruise to a 68-48 victory over West Chester Rustin on its home court. Leroy Hoggard and Andrew Boggs chipped in 13 points apiece for the Red Raiders (17-6), who held the game Golden Knights (11-12) scoreless for more than seven minutes during a back-breaking spurt that propelled Coatesville into Tuesday’s Ches-Mont championship game against undefeated Great Valley, set for 7:15 p.m. at Unionville High School.
"Don’t let him get a shot," Nelms said of his team’s defensive focus on Ridgeway, who had a game-high 20 points but went scoreless over the final 10 minutes as Coatesville cranked up the pressure and kept the ball out of his hands. "He was filling it up."
Was he ever. The Knights’ star point guard had 15 points in the first half, keeping Rustin in striking distance at halftime, trailing just 34-28 despite immense foul trouble and a pronounced size disadvantage that helped the Red Raiders to a 41-8 advantage in free-throw attempts. Ridgeway’s baseline drive gave Rustin the lead at 37-36 midway through the third quarter, and the last of his three three-pointers cut the deficit to 42-40 at the three-minute mark. After that, it was all Coatesville and then some.
The Red Raiders reeled off the game’s next 21 points, Boggs starting the run with a three-point play and Emmett Hunt (nine points, six rebounds) capping it with one of his own to put Coatesville ahead 63-40. Hollingshed put back three of his own misses and finished a strong move inside during the dominant stretch, during which two Golden Knights fouled out. By the time Omar Stewart put back his own miss with just over four minutes to play, the Golden Knights hadn’t scored in almost eight minutes, and Coatesville was well on its way to the league title game.
"We were playing good defense, making good passes and finishing every shot," said Boggs, who made went 6-for-7 from the line and added a pair of bullet assists to Tyler Burke for easy layups during the run.
The Red Raiders looked ready to implode as Rustin scored the first seven points after halftime, Stewart giving Rustin its first lead since the opening minute with a pair of free throws that made it 35-34 with 6:48 to play in the third. That’s as good as it got for the Golden Knights, as the American Division runner-ups simply couldn’t find enough help for Ridgeway, nor enough answers for the Red Raiders’ length and athleticism. Eventually, Coatesville’s array of swarming traps and active hands made it difficult for Rustin to pass halfcourt.
"My kids gave me everything they had," Rustin coach Keith Cochran said. "Coatesville is a tough team from top to bottom...It was a test of wills, but we did the best we could."
Against the relentless Red Raiders, it wasn’t nearly enough. Coatesville pounded the offensive glass all night, doubling up the Golden Knights on the boards and grabbing most of their own misses. Five different Red Raiders collected at least five rebounds, with the bullish Hollingshed doing most of the damage. The 6-5 junior was an immovable force in the paint, nearly fouling out two Rustin players in the first half alone. Despite a 5-for-13 effort at the line, Nelms couldn’t help but gush about Hoggard and Hollingshed, who combined for 30 points and 20 rebounds on the night.
"Leroy’s been playing really, really well for us, and Jaquan is getting better and better," Nelms said. "He’s got to make his foul shots, though."
Even with big men Tyler Blake and Blake McGlong picking up four fouls apiece in the first half, Cochran had no choice but to keep them in as the Red Raiders abused their replacements on the glass. Chris Richardson fouled out with seven minutes to play, and Blake joined him on the bench shortly thereafter.
"I had to roll the dice and keep them in, just to try and keep them off the boards," Cochran said. "Their best shot was a missed shot."
Another impressive victory in their rearview mirror, the National Division champion Red Raiders now look ahead to Tuesday’s clash with Great Valley, a 54-46 winner over West Chester Henderson on Saturday. Against Mikal Bridges and company, a contrast of styles seems in order, as the more deliberate Patriots attempt to combat Coatesville’s fast-paced, pressing tendencies in the first meeting between the league’s top teams.
"I hope it’s a good one," Nelms said. "They’re very talented. They’re not going to turn the ball over, they’re not going to make mistakes. They’re bigger than us. We’re going to have to try and out-quick them if we have a chance."
Minutes after Saturday’s victory, Hoggard glanced up at the Ches-Mont championship banners fastened to the walls of Coatesville’s home gym.
"We haven’t won it since...2010," Hoggard said, pausing to check the last number on the list. At Coatesville, two years qualifies as a drought. One more victory, however, and the Red Raiders can slake their thirst for a title.
"It would be great," Hoggard said. "We haven’t won it in a long time, so we just want to get that back here and keep it going."
Coatesville 68, W.C. Rustin 48
W.C. RUSTIN: Andersson 1 1-2 3, Stewart 2 2-2 6, Ridgeway 8 1-1 20, McCarrick 1 2-2 4, Nelson 1 0-0 2, Chobany 1 0-0 3, McGlond 2 1-1 5, Richardson 0 0-0 0, Blake 1 0-0 2, Ammerman 1 0-0 3. Totals 17 7-8 48.
COATESVILLE: Hoggard 6 1-1 13, Boggs 2 9-10 13, Hollingshed 6 5-13 17, Jones 0 6-8 6, Hunt 3 2-2 9, Burke 3 1-2 7, Lewis 1 0-1 2, Parker 0 0-0 0, Crutchfield 0 0-2 0, Davis 0 1-2 1, Rubincam 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 25-41 68.
W.C. Rustin 12 16 12 8 -- 48
Coatesville 19 15 17 17 -- 68
3-point goals: Ridgeway 3, Chobany, Hunt.