The Coshocton County Beacon April 1, 2020 - Page 17

April 1, 2020 The Beacon • 17 Generals set a new standard after fantastic season By Dave Mast What defines a successful season? For the Ridgewood Gener- als basketball team, it would be meeting some lofty goals, which the team did, plus a lot more in fashioning what is perhaps the most successful season in school history. The Generals fell to Proc- torville Fairland 68-58 in a tight Div. III regional con- test in Athens the night before everything was shut down by the OHSAA due to COVID-19 virus concerns, so their record- setting season was officially over, but the trek to get to game 27 was one to remember. In that game, the Generals held a 34-29 lead at the half and were neck-and-neck with Fairland in the fourth period. Early in that final period Fair- land inched out in front, and forced to foul late, the Generals saw their season slip away. But what a season it was for Ridgewood. The Gener- als set a new school mark in wins, boasting a sparkling 24-3 record. They won the Inter- Valley Conference South divi- sion and captured the school’s first-ever district champion- ship. Although it is always tough to let go of a season that means so much and is so precious, the Generals can do so knowing they have set a new bar for future Ridgewood basketball teams. “At the beginning of the season, the kids set goals of winning the IVC, winning sec- tionals and winning districts,” said Generals head coach Troy Dolick. “We accomplished a lot of goals this season and I am very proud of these kids for what they did and the way they went about doing it. This is a great group of kids who got after it every day in practice. There wasn’t any selfishness and everyone knew where they could help us and they went about doing their jobs.” The leadership came from a group of six seniors, including three starters in Koleton Smith, Connor Kunze and Trey Stof- fer, all of whom played key roles for Dolick. In addition, senior Kaden Smith dealt with health issues all season and Dolick said he never quite got back to the star player he was prior to that, but he still con- tributed mightily. Two other seniors didn’t log many min- utes but gave the team a strong leadership presence. Dolick said their leadership Although it is always tough to let go of a season that means so much and is so precious, the Generals can do so knowing they have set a new bar for future Ridgewood basketball teams. as a group was critical to the team’s success. The Generals relied on rebounding and finding outlets quickly that allowed them to fly up the floor to create plenty of great scoring opportuni- ties. Dolick said they practiced Dave Mast Senior Trey Stoffer was a key cog in the Generals basketball machine that made its first regional appear- ance in school history. Stoffer earned Div. III third team All-Ohio honors by averaging 14 points per contest, while teammate Koleton Smith was tabbed honorable mention, averaging 13 points a game. Dave Mast A blend of youth, featuring sophomore Gabe Tingle, left, and senior leadership, Connor Kunze, right, helped lead Ridgewood to its best basketball season in school history this past year. The Generals cap- tured the school’s first district crown. transition scoring every single practice and it became second nature for his team. The Generals reeled off 19 straight wins to start the season before dropping a pair late in the regular season to Div. I power Massillon and perennial IVC powerhouse Hiland. We knew that Hiland game at their place would be a chal- lenge and we wanted to chal- lenge the kids by playing Massillon late,” Dolick said. “Those games helped prepare us for tournament play, which was exactly what we wanted and the boys responded well to that even though we didn’t play well against Hiland.” Then came the IVC Show- case showdown with IVC North champion Malvern. The Hornets and Generals knocked each other around for four quarters then went one more, before the Generals seized con- trol and went on to win a 69-63 thriller that Dolick said got his players reenergized. That sent them into the tournament with some real momentum, and the Generals took it to Newcomerstown 7 4 - 2 7 , k n o c k e d o ff We s t Muskingum 65-43 and took down a dangerous Tusky Val- ley team 53-38 before facing Morgan in the Div. III district championship game. Another fantastic team effort propelled them past Morgan 65-48 and they had the school’s first boys’ district title in basketball. “I thought the way the kids responded to those two losses against a talented and well- coached Malvern team was key,” Dolick said. “We were down in that game and had to answer and we did.” Dolick said with Ridge- wood experiencing great suc- cess in football and baseball, it was encouraging to see the basketball team experience that same success. He said it energized the whole school and he could sense the uptick in passion for the program. “We haven’t had a lot of success in basketball and this season, I think really will go a long way in getting more kids involved and excited about the program,” Dolick said. A second-grade teacher in the Ridgewood School District, Dolick said he was thrilled to watch a recent recess that saw more than two dozen second- grade kids playing hoops. “ I t ’s c r e a t e d a b u z z , ” Dolick said. “Hopefully this sets the bar higher for our kids. I told our guys that they have changed things here at Ridge- wood for the program.” In a season featuring a bizarre end, it will be remem- bers by Generals faithful not for a virus that shut down the season, but rather for the effort and success this team pro- duced. Need to Advertise? I can help! Drinko Contact Nina Nina Drinko, Account Manager ndrinko@alonovus.com or call 220-201-6920 ndrinko@alonovus.com Tell Us What’s Happening in Your jsellers@alonovus.com