Cody Andersen has helped guide Ridgway back into the AACS state tournament. (Special to The Commercial/Mike Adam)
For first-year head coach Trent Young and Ridgway Christian, this season has been mostly about making the right adjustments.
“Every coach is different,” Young said. “One thing I’ve found, as far as my philosophy is concerned, I just really stress fundamentals. Doesn’t matter what sport it is.”
Ridgway Christian will face Life Way Christian on Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the first round of the AACS State Boys tournament held at Columbia Christian School in Magnolia.
“We have accomplished quite a bit,” Young said. “These guys work very hard. We’ve only had three or four bad games all year long.
“Usually they come back from that and give a better effort.”
One of the strengths of Ridgway Christian has been its overall depth.
“Our depth comes from our ninth graders and sophomores,” Young said. “Four of five of them got playing this year.”
The ninth graders finished this season 15-3 and were state semifinalist.
“Our attitudes have been good all year long,” Young said. “We have some good leadership. I’ve been pleased all year young.”
For the second year in a row, Ridgway Christian has made it to the state tournament.
“It means quite a bit,” Young said. “They went last year, but we graduated some seniors and our chemistry is different.
“This is a fairly young program and they’ve have gone a few times before not consistently. It means a lot to the program to be able to go again.”
Seniors Larry Tate, Blake Pennington and Dewayne Goldman are a big reason why Ridgway Christian has been successful this season.
“They have all been major contributors to our success,” Young said.
Tate averages 17 points per game and has been one of the leading scorers in almost every game. Pennington stands at about 6’5, so has been a major presence in the post.
Ridgway Christian has played Life Way twice this season and has lost one and won one. The loss was at home in which Young says they played three good quarters before losing the game in the fourth.
If they defeat Life Way, they will play Southwest Christian Academy later that same day.
The Ridgway Christian girls team will face Life Way Christian at 10 a.m. on Friday.
RCA has just one senior on its varsity girls team so Friday’s game will be a tough task.
Head coach Pam Turner was not available for comment.
St. Joseph accomplishes its goal
After not winning a single game last season, the St. Joseph boys basketball team has won seven games and will play in the first round of the AACS State Boys tournament at Columbia Christian School in Magnolia.
“After losing three starters, I wasn’t sure what the year would be,” St. Joseph head coach Mathew Foss said. “But we won to make it to the state tournament.
“We had an up and down ear, but they played their hearts out.”
St. Joseph has just eight players on the team including a 7th grader, two 8th graders and one who has never played basketball before this season.
“A good chunk of our losses have been by single digits,” Foss said. “We have a made a lot of improvement.”
Foss said one of the goals for this season was to make it to the state tournament.
“We worked hard for it,” Foss said.
St. Joseph requires all student-athletes to maintain a 2.5 GPA to participate in sports.
“They worked hard in the classroom and it pays off to take a trip like this,” Foss said.
St. Joseph will play Christian Ministries out of Hot Springs today at 2:40 p.m.
“We don’t have size and we pretty much play just five kids,” Foss said. “But we train extra hard and we just want to take it one game at a time.”
At 7-12 overall, Foss said this year has been an odd season.
“A couple of games, our officials did not even show up,” Foss said. “But overall we have done well for ourselves.”
This is Foss’ second year as a head coach and his second year at St. Joseph.
“I wish I could tell what the difference between this year and last year is,” Foss said. “Then I would have done it last year.”
Last year, St. Joseph lost one game by 60 points.
“This season, I think the kids are starting to realize we are a good team,” Foss said.
Two years ago – before Foss arrived – St. Joseph finished runner-up in the state tournament. But then almost the entire team left.
“They either left the school, graduated or whatever,” Foss said. “One kid that stayed told me that he maybe played five minutes the entire season.”
Foss has been spending the last two seasons building from the ground up.
“It has been a slow progress but they eventually got there,” Foss said.