Ripley rises to 8-4 in SHAC with win over Green Devils –
By Wade Linville –
The Ripley-Union-Lewis-Huntington Blue Jays have found a great deal of success on the court this season, and as a result they have earned the No. 1 seed for the Southwest District Division IV Sectional Tournament at Taylor High School. Coming off a 71-66 conference road win over the Fairfield Lions, the Blue Jays upped their Southern Hills Athletic Conference record to 8-4 with a narrow 44-42 victory over the visiting North Adams Green Devils on Feb. 10. It was a close conference game in which the Blue Jays would never trail, and a contest in which the Green Devils refused to go down lightly. The Blue Jays got off to a good start, outscoring the Green Devils 15-12 in the first period of play and going on to win the second period 12-8 to hold a 27-20 lead heading into the locker room for halftime break. The Green Devils returned from halftime break to outscore the Blue Jays 22-17 in the second half, but the North Adams rally came too little, too late as the Jays were able to knock down some key buckets down the stretch to hold on for the two-point victory. The Green Devils had one final opportunity to pull off the win while trailing by two with possession of the ball in the final seconds, but it was a big defensive play by Ripley junior Jaki Royal that prevented the North Adams varsity squad from getting off a good shot. Royal, nearly coming up with a steal before the ball went out-of-bounds, left the Green Devils with just one second to in-bounds the ball and put up a quick score. A three-pointer would have led to a win for the Devils, while a two-point field goal would have sent the game into overtime, but the final shot by the Devils bounced off the front of the rim, just missing its mark. “It was huge for us,” Ripley head coach Rex Woodward said in a post-game interview. “I told the guys if we could just take care of business tonight we will see what happens next week. It was one of those games that was kind of whacky, but we’ll take the win.” Leading the way for the Jays in scoring in Saturday’s win were senior Brian Dunn and junior Landon Rigdon, both finishing with 11 points each, while Fyffe added five points to Ripley’s side of the scoreboard. Ripley seniors Ryan Harney and Josiah Staggs contributed with six points each. “Luckily we have a lot of guards and we feel very comfortable with the ball in our hands,” Woodward added. “We tried to keep it out of the corner in half-court because they were trapping us hard. We handled the ball down the stretch and luckily Fyffe was able to hit one free throw to at least make it a two-point lead.” With Saturday’s win over North Adams, the Jays were in second place in SHAC Division I standings behind the 9-3 West Union Dragons. The Jays rose to a 13-7 overall record by topping the Green Devils for the second time this season. The Blue Jays will face No. 4 seed Lockland (6-13) in round one of the sectional tourney on Saturday, Feb. 24. The winner of that game will move on to face No. 10 seed Hillcrest (3-13) on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at Taylor High School.