Apollo-Ridge rolls past Burrell for fourth straight victory

Thursday, January 16, 2020 | 10:51 PM

The Apollo-Ridge girls basketball team is about to embark on a crucial stretch of Section 1-4A games with matchups against North Catholic, Indiana, Knoch and Freeport.

The Vikings will enter that gauntlet with momentum after Thursday’s 61-42 victory over Burrell, their fourth straight win overall and third consecutive triumph in the section play.

“We have two weeks here where we have to really hunker down and keep getting better, and hopefully, we’ll be there in the mix at the end,” said Apollo-Ridge coach Mike Monstrola, who saw his team improve to 8-6 overall and even its section record at 4-4.

The Vikings are tied with Indiana for the fourth and final playoff spot in the section and are two games behind third-place Knoch (6-2).

North Catholic (7-0) and Freeport (7-1) lead the way in the section standings.

“In general, we’ve had a really good week,” Monstrola said. “It started with the win over Greensburg Salem, and it translated into good things the past couple of days, in practice and games. Today, we just continued doing what we’ve been doing.”

An Emily Bonelli free throw with four seconds left gave the Vikings a 40-39 victory over Greensburg-Salem on Monday.

Monstrola credited a strong defensive effort Thursday, which included forcing Burrell into 18 turnovers.

Apollo-Ridge also controlled the boards at both ends of the floor, and offensively, it created a number of second-chance points.

“I think the girls are sick of hearing me say ‘rebound’ over and over again in practice, but that work translates to the game,” Monstrola said. “The girls work hard on a lot of things like that, and they deserve all the credit in the world. We did a nice job of stifling their offense and getting on the boards.”

Rylee Eaton and Madi Marks paced the rebounding effort, and they also fronted the offensive attack for the Vikings.

Eaton led the way with 16 points. She scored eight of the 16 in the second quarter as Apollo-Ridge expanded a 14-10 lead after one quarter to a 14-point advantage at halftime.

Marks scored nine points in the first half and finished with 13, while Morgan Gamble added 11.

Gamble came out firing in the third quarter with a 3-pointer and a two-point field goal to extend the lead to 41-22.

Apollo-Ridge used a 9-0 run to start the second half to take control.

Burrell tried to rally and got the deficit to 14 on two occasions early in the fourth, but it was unable to get any closer.

“When you play Apollo-Ridge, you know they are going to be physical, and you have to match that,” Burrell coach Joel Ceraso said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that. It happened both times we played them. They set the tone early (Thursday) with their physicality.”

Kylee Wynn scored Apollo-Ridge’s first six points, matching a pair of 3-pointers from Allison Fisher. Free throws from Eaton and Marks then gave the Vikings the lead for good.

Burrell’s Olivia Watts hit a pair of 3-pointers and was 6 of 7 from the free throw line as part of a team-best 14-point effort.

Fisher added a trio of buckets from long distance and three foul shots to finish with 12 points for the Bucs.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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