The Grove Ridgerunners basketball team called it a season Saturday afternoon in 4A Regional play at Vinita. The Ridgerunners fell 58-41 to the Dewey Bulldoggers in the finals of the consolation championship. On Friday Grove defeated county rival Jay 64-41 in the semi-final frame ending the Bulldogs’ season.
The Friday afternoon contest between Grove and Jay marked the third time this season that the two schools have faced off, with each team owning a win in the series. The third time was a charm for the Ridgerunners as they held the advantage over Jay from the opening whistle. The Ridgerunners led by five at the break, 32-27, and had stretched their lead to nine, 46-37, as the fourth quarter began.
Any hopes of a fourth quarter resurgence from the Bulldogs were quickly dashed as Grove dominated the final eight minutes; thoroughly outpacing Jay by a mark of 18-4.
Grove senior Troy Howerton was the high scorer on the afternoon with 25 points. Junior Tyler Spychalski scored 13 and senior Blake Hartwick put up 12 rounding out the double-digit scorers for the Ridgerunners. Senior Luke Shoemaker added eight points.
Kenzie Witt and Spencer Brown set the high mark for Jay with nine points each. Freshman Chucky Larrabee scored seven points. Senior Chance Tuder put in six points.
Although it was a disappointing end to the Bulldog season the Jay program still has much to be pleased with for the 2007-08 campaign. The Bulldogs captured the District Championship earlier this month in Claremore and they made the finals of the Tri-State Classic Tournament in January. Witt, Larrabee, and Brown all return next season.
Saturday afternoon the Ridgerunners prepped for their third game in regional play having dispensed with Collinsville on Thursday before their Jay victory on Friday.
The Ridgerunners and ‘Doggers were knotted at 18 after the first quarter but Dewey managed to pull out a five-point edge in the second and took a 27-22 lead into the lockers.
Early in the second half the ‘Doggers put together an eight-point unanswered streak to pull away 38-24. Grove junior Michael Macomber hit a three-point shot to stop the Dewey spree. The trey was the start of an 11-5 run for Grove that saw the Ridgerunners close out the third and bring the score to 43-35, Dewey, going into the fourth.
Dewey opened the final eight minutes with a six-point run to put some distance to Grove, 49-35, on the scoreboard. Shoemaker put in two buckets, around another ‘Dogger deuce, to try to start a Ridgerunner rally but Dewey answered with a five point streak to go up 56-39 and all but seal the Bulldogger win.
In his final hard-court appearance for Grove Shoemaker led the team in points with 12. Fellow seniors Howerton and Hartwick added seven and five points apiece in their final appearance in Ridgerunner basketball red. Macomber ended the game with 11 points.
Despite the Saturday loss the Ridgerunners had a proud playoff run. The Grove team played some of its best ball when it counted most. Seniors Hartwick, Howerton, and Shoemaker provided fans with thrills, sportsmanship, and athleticism all season and the trio will be as much missed as they have been appreciated.