BASKING RIDGE, NJ -- After beginning the season with five losses in its first seven games, the Ridge boys basketball team has had opponents on the run.
The Red Devils ran at every opportunity during the first three fast-paced quarters, built a lead as large as 27 points and cruised in with a 62-46 victory over Bridgewater-Raritan Thursday night.
It was the eighth victory in the last 10 games for the Red Devils (10-7), who are playing some of their best basketball just as the seeding for the Somerset County Tournament approaches next week.
Sophomore guard Gavin Kreitz scored 11 of his team-high 17 points in the first quarter, senior guard Easton Smith scored all 12 of his points in the first half and sophomore center Jayden Hylton finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots for Ridge. Kreitz sank three 3-pointers in the opening quarter.
Junior forward Alec Whelan finished with a team-high 15 points for Bridgewater-Raritan, an impressive effort as he went toe-to-toe in the post with the 6-foot-7 Hylton.
Ridge led, 21-15, late in the first quarter when the Red Devils embarked on a 15-4 run to open a 17-point lead late in the second quarter. The spurt was fueled by Ridge's relentless transition game, which was ignited by the defense's ability to force a lot of turnovers by trapping the Panthers and disruptively playing the passing lanes.
Smith's driving basket closed out the first quarter. Then, after Nate Herrera sank a free throw, Nick Losada scored off his own steal, and Herrera followed with a steal and layup for a 28-15 lead. After Trivedi interrupted the run by hitting a hook shot for BRHS, Nolan Murphy hit a layup for Ridge. Whelan answered with an inside basket, then the Red Devils followed with six straight points on two Smith free throws, a steal and layup by Colin Lombardi and a Hylton layup off a feed from Lombardi for a 36-19 lead.
Perhaps most impressive about Ridge's opening five minutes of the second quarter was that six different Red Devils scored in that flurry. Nine Ridge players scored in the game.
Not only is Ridge 8-2 in its last 10 games, but coach Brian Feath's team has held opponents under 50 points in that span. A home game Saturday against J.P. Stevens will be the last one for Ridge before the county tournament is seeded early next week.
Bridgewater-Raritan was coming off a 64-58 home loss to a Hunterdon Central team that is of comparable quality to Ridge. But, while the Panthers were able to slow Hunterdon Central's intent to run up and down the floor in that game, they had less success stopping Ridge's transition game.
Bridgewater-Raritan will play at home against East Brunswick Saturday afternoon.