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Westhampton vs ST. Mary's 3/28/98
Federation CLASS B State Semi-Final

Westhampton 75 St. Mary's 59

Glens Falls - As pre-teen neighbors on Hazelwood Avenue, Jason Ritchie and Bronson Martin would waste away the afternoon playing basketball on a small halfcourt and rim installed in Ritchie's backyard. The two never figured their pastime would lead them to New York basketball's grand stage, the state Federation Final Four.
The improbable happened Friday, however, with Ritchie and Martin playing key roles in Westhampton's 75-59 victory over St. Mary's in the Class B semifinal at Glens Falls Civic Center. The Hurricanes, state public schools Class B champions, improved to 27-0 and will face PSAL B winner Wadleigh in the title game at 7 p.m. Saturday.
"This is a dream," said Ritchie, a 6-2 senior swingman who had for a season-high 18 points, shot 6-for-14 and had three rebounds.
"Jason seemed to be the open man in the first half," Westhampton coach Rich Wrase said. "We always go under the philosophy that any five guys on the court can score. We never really go to one guy. But I really couldn't believe how open he was. He got some nice looks. And he can shoot - he has a nice stroke - but we usually have Jason do other things. He's a defender, a passer, a ballhandler."
Before a sparse crowd of 500 and with a storybook season on the line, Ritchie stepped forward and added another rich chapter in Hurricanes lore. With 6-5 inside threat Jermain Hollman (13 points, eight boards) double-teamed and both Martin and point guard Dale Menendez (15 points, five assists) shadowed, the ball found its way to an open Ritchie again and again in the first half. He did not hesitate to fire. Back-to-back three-point shots by Ritchie - the second just 1:49 into the game - opened an 8-0 lead.
His baseline jumper with 2:52 to go in the quarter made it 16-5 and kept the Hurricanes perfect (7-for-7) from the field. "I didn't know if it was going to go in or not at the beginning, but when it did, I knew I could not miss," said Ritchie, who was 5-for-6 from three-point range. "I haven't played like that in a while. I just came out strong."
Martin - 14 points - finished strong. He scored 10 in the final quarter, all in the last 3:17 to help fend off the pesky Gaels in the unofficial battle for Long Island bragging rights.
"They played their hearts out," St. Mary's coach Tim Cluess said of Westhampton. "They beat us to the loose balls. Something we've done all year long, they did to us today. They wanted it more today; that's the truth. They are the best team on Long Island, period. They handed it to us."
St. Mary's (22-5), the state CHSAA Class B champion, struggled to convert on prime opportunities. Sensational sophomore point guard Joel Suarez, who finished with a game-high 22 points, cut into the defecit with a 10-footer at the start of the second period to pull the Gaels within 16-11. It seemed St. Mary's should have remained on the heels of the Hurricanes. But Suarez, the Gaels' most dangerous scorer, seemed to lose his deft touch at one point in the quarter. He blew three transition layups and the Gaels missed on two other point-blank opportunities. The Gaels shot only 35 percent (8-for-23) in the half and not much better (21-for-56) for the game.
"We missed five layups in the first half," Cluess said. "If we would have made those, at least we would have been in the game. We knew we weren't playing well, but we would have been able to compete. Once we fell behind, I had to use different personnel to try and catch up offensively."
The personnel included little-used reserve Patrick Eagan. The junior guard responded with a pair of threes, the last making it 65-56 with 2:05 left in the fourth. Twenty-four seconds later, however, St. Mary's was through when 6-4 junior Jim Frauenberg (8 points, 5 boards, 4 assists) went down with what Cluess later said was a broken left ankle. It drained the energy from the Gaels' comeback.
"I could feel when I came back in the huddle, the kids were looking at me like it was over," Cluess said. "Jimmy has been a real leader on our team. He has really gotten it done down the stretch."

STATE FEDERATION CLASS B TOURNAMENT Box Score
St.Mary's: Suarez 9-1-22,Frauenberg 2-4-8, Petit 4-3-12, Eriksson 0-1-1, Williams 4-2-10, Eagan 2-0-6. Totals: 21-11-59.
Westhampton: Menendez 7-0-15, Hollman 3-7-13, Ritchie 6-1-18, Sanders 2-2-6, Martin 5-4-14, Liggon 4-0-9. Totals: 27-14-75.
Three-point goals - St.Mary's 6 (Suarez 3, Eagan 2, Petit);
Westhampton 7 (Ritchie 5,Menendez, Liggon).
TeamFirst QTSecond QTThird QTFouth QTTotal
Westhampton1619142675
St. Mary's912132559


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