BRIDGEVILLE – To say it’s been a long time since the Mapletown High School boys basketball team won a playoff game would be an understatement.
Entering Friday’s WPIAL Class A preliminary round game against Leechburg, the Maples had gone 41 years since winning a WPIAL playoff game.
Thanks to a big offensive performance from Kevin Ridgley and a solid defensive effort, the Maples put an end to their postseason woes with a dominating 49-29 victory at Chartiers Valley High School.
The win sends Mapletown (7-16) into Tuesday’s first round against top-seeded Lincoln Park at a site and time to be determined.
“It’s special,” said Mapletown head coach Craig Hoone. “We just don’t have goals to make the playoffs; we want to win playoff games. Tonight, these kids did what I have been asking from them, and it paid off. I’ve been at Mapletown for a while, and I know it has been a long time since we have won a playoff game.”
The playoff drought dates back to the 1972 season, when the Maples were WPIAL champions and made it to the second round of the PIAA playoffs, where they lost to Karns City.
Mapletown’s success Friday was due in large part to a second-half effort that saw them outscore the Blue Devils, 29-13, including opening the fourth quarter with a 10-2 spurt that broke open a close game.
The Maples’ defense made it tough on Leechburg (8-13) and held the Blue Devils to only four fourth-quarter points. The same couldn’t be said for the Blue Devils, who used a full-court press all game, one that Mapletown broke with ease and often resulted in easy shot attempts.
“I thought we defended well,” said Hoone. “It kept us in the game when it was tight and offensively, we didn’t panic against their press. Everything we have been working on the past few weeks, we did well tonight.”
While Mapletown was defending well, Ridgley took over on offense.
The senior scored 14 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, including knocking down four three-pointers as the Maples started to pull away.
“I was patient and got some good looks at the basket,” said Ridgley. “We were unselfish and moved the ball very well as a team. This win means so much. It’s a reward for how hard we worked. My teammates deserved this for their effort and (Coach Hoone) deserves it for pushing us to always get better.”
The game was close at the half as Mapletown took only a 20-16 lead into the locker room.
Leechburg’s Chris Swank kept the Blue Devils in the game, scoring 12 of his 15 points in the first half, but eventually the Mapletown defense wore him out.
“We will enjoy this for a little bit and then start trying to prepare for them,” said Hoone.