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Mtn. Ridge fends off Northern, 56-48, in region quarterfinals

Feb. 28—FROSTBURG — Mountain Ridge was in trouble after Northern took the lead midway through the fourth quarter, but Cameron Breighner and the Miners finished strong to keep their season alive.

Northern gave Mountain Ridge fits with its physical 2-3 zone, and, following a Devin McKenzie 3-pointer with 4:56 to play, the Huskies took a 46-45 lead.

However, Breighner answered with a personal 6-0 run — part of a larger 11-2 burst — and Mountain Ridge did just enough to take down Northern, 56-48, in the Class 1A West Region I quarterfinals on Tuesday night.

"It was a win. It's survive and move on at this point," Mountain Ridge head coach Tim Nightengale said. "It wasn't pretty basketball. Northern gave us everything we could handle. They played a physical style of basketball. We struggled with that."

Mountain Ridge (14-9), seeded No. 4 in the region, advances to play at No. 1 Fort Hill (17-4) in the semifinals on Thursday at 6 p.m.

No. 2 Allegany (19-4) hosts No. 3 Southern (15-8) in the other half of the bracket. The Campers routed Clear Spring, 82-31, and the Rams crushed Hancock, 78-38, in their playoff openers Tuesday.

Northern finishes the season with a 10-13 record.

Despite going winless in Western Maryland Athletic Conference play and losing to Mountain Ridge, 65-47 and 49-34 during the regular season, Northern played like a team that belonged Tuesday, battling the Miners to the final whistle.

"We had two weeks off to prep for one team," Northern head coach Ron Opel said. "They executed the game-plan exactly how we wanted them to. Working in the full court press, backing into a zone. ... We just couldn't get any shots to fall."

Mountain Ridge was led in scoring by Will Patterson, who finished with a game-high 21 points. Breighner added 12, and Eli Sibley and Cobe Penick chipped in eight apiece.

McKenzie and Abe Schilpp ended in double figures for Northern with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Robbie Rollman and Cole Folk tallied eight points each, and Alex Knauff garnered seven.

Mountain Ridge took an 11-6 lead into the second quarter and extended its margin to 15-6 at the 6:40 mark of the second — part of a 9-0 run spanning parts of both quarters.

However, that lead would prove to be the largest for either team Tuesday, as Northern answered with a 7-0 flurry to trim the Miners' lead to 21-19 at the half.

Northern took its first lead at 25-23 with 6:33 on the clock in the third quarter following a transition score by Folk, and the Huskies entered the fourth with a 39-38 edge following a put-back by Schilpp with 15 seconds left in the period.

After Breighner's 6-0 run in the fourth put Mountain Ridge ahead 51-46 with 2:01 left, Rollman answered with a fadeaway field goal to trim the margin to three points with 37.2 seconds remaining.

Patterson was 5 of 6 at the line in the fourth, and Northern couldn't close the gap.

"Something clicked for him in the second half," Nightengale said of Breighner. "When shots start to fall, confidence builds, and I think that's what happened for him there (in the fourth quarter)."

While it wasn't the result Northern hoped for, the Huskies didn't leave anything on the court.

"We're playing with house money," Opel said. "No one expected us to come down and win at all. Nobody expected us to be in the game at all. We knew we were the more physical team, and we've proven that every game we've played this year.

"Why not come down here and lay it all on the line, show them how physical we are and see if they can keep up with that."

Mountain Ridge now turns to a road test at Fort Hill for a spot in the region championship. The Miners fell to the Sentinels, 69-40 and 65-48, during the regular season.

Mountain Ridge was down a starter against Northern in Ian Duncan, an 8.2 points per game scorer, due to an illness but hope to get him back for Thursday.

"We have to come in tomorrow and mentally prep for what we're going to face with the pressure from Fort Hill," Nightengale said.

Southern 78 Hancock 38

OAKLAND — Isaiah Keller buried seven 3-pointers, and Southern dominated from the first whistle to the last in a rout of Hancock Tuesday in the West Region I quarterfinals.

Southern (15-8) led 18-5, 39-12 and 59-21 after the first three quarters.

Keller led all scorers with 23 points, and Jared Haskiell and Noah Wilt joined him in double figures for Southern with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Ryan Bird added nine points, and Connor Ayers scored eight.

Ethan Hill topped Hancock with 14 points.

Alex Rychwalski is a sports reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.