Ridgewood holds off pesky Elmwood ParkElmwood Park's Marcellus Hunter (left) shoots over Ridgewood's Frank Portera.
Updated: March 23, 2011 3:46PM
Ridgewood and Elmwood Park met far away from their nearby home bases for a chance to get to a regional final on Friday.
The Rebels escaped with a 67-66 win Tuesday night in Class 3A regional semifinal action at Lakes to make a clean sweep of the rivals' three games this season.
Elmwood Park (8-19) played from behind from the start, but was never out of the game. Junior Juan Molina hit the last of the team's 11 three-pointers at the buzzer to make it a one-point game as the 14th-seeded Tigers ran out of time.
"You have to tip your hat to them because they played well and with a lot of energy," said Ridgewood head coach Chris Mroz. "They went with five guards, and we had a bit of a matchup problem, especially on defense. They made a lot of threes and played well. We'll go back to the drawing board and get some stuff right before Friday."
Ridgewood junior Andy Mazurczak was as scoring machine, leading everyone with 27 points on the night. He was joined in double figures by junior Pete Mroz with 15 and senior John Caravia with 14.
Caravia missed a pair of front ends of one-and-ones in the final moments that helped Elmwood Park stay alive.
The Rebels (18-9) missed 16 chances from the free-throw line between missed shots with second shots they never got to take. Despite those troubles, No. 3 seed Ridgewood plays for the right to defend their home court in the sectional round on Friday night against Wednesday's winner of sixth-seeded Lakes and 11th seed Roosevelt.
"We went into the game wanting to extend our season and end someone else's and get to Friday's game," Mazurczak said. "They came out strong even though we beat them twice. They played scrappy and hard, and they made a lot of big shots. I began the game with a couple of drives, and got to the free-throw line. I just played with what they gave me."
Elmwood Park was led by junior Dawid Lipiszko's 21 points, including five three-point baskets. Juniors Anthony Santiago and Alec Gomez each had 14 as Santiago connected on four shots from beyond the arc. Molina added nine points for the Tigers.
"I'm proud of these guys because we didn't play Ridgewood close in the two games earlier this season," said Elmwood Park coach Mike Wasielewski. "And we were down by seven at the half and to start the fourth quarter, but we still fought to come back."