Ridley and Methacton know plenty about each other ahead of Friday’s opener in the District One Tournament. But one of the biggest things both teams know is that the recent history between the schools only means so much.
In the seventh-place playback game last year, the Warriors tipped Ridley, 46-41, both teams heading to states. It’s enough familiarity for each team to have a good idea what will be in store when No. 17 Methacton travels to No. 16 Ridley Friday.
But Ridley coach Mike Snyder also knows that this year’s teams are drastically different from the teams that squared off a season ago.
The Green Raiders (13-8, 9-7 Central) retain only a handful of contributors from last year’s team. Only three players on the current roster played against Methacton last year, with Brett Foster’s six points the only entry to the score sheet.
The 2013-14 Methacton (15-8, 12-3 Pioneer Athletic Conference) squad has also experienced significant turnover from the senior-laden group that made an undefeated league run last season.
The only remnant of the familiarity between the teams is a general understanding by Snyder of their style and how they want to play. The Warriors, whose only three league losses this season have come to the tournament’s No. 4 seed Spring-Ford, have decent size and boast solid in-out balance.
Balance is precisely what the Green Raiders have sought in recent games. After a period of losing five of seven, the Green Raiders have won their last two games, including a 65-51 contribution to Penncrest’s recent woes. Instead of being overly reliant on Foster (averaging 15.9 points per game), the Penncrest game was a display of the balance the team is capable of, with three players in double-figures.
Among them was Andrew Murphy, who returned from a three-game absence to hit four 3-pointers as part of his 14-point effort. Murphy has been a big contributor in the team’s recent shooting improvement.
The other major contributor has been Julian Wing, who has chipped in an average of 9.7 points per game over the last three after averaging just 4.2 points per game this season.
“It helps more with the flow of the offense to get more players involved,” Snyder said. “But we’ve been making more jump shots lately. That helps open up more driving lanes for Brett and (point guard) Malcolm (Strand-Young).”
The Warriors present some matchup problems. Their top scorer is 6-5 forward Zach Jenkins, who is averaging 13.8 points per game. Though he’d be giving up some size, it appears as though defensive specialist Pat O’Neill will draw that responsibility for a relatively thin Green Raiders front line.
In the backcourt, 6-3 guard Justin Aardman is another tough scorer to keep tabs on, and the onus will likely fall on perimeter specialist Isaiah Lester.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Green Raiders, especially given the weather-related uncertainty, is the issue of time off. They haven’t played since last Thursday, leaving a minimum of eight days between games, a bit of a dose of concern for Snyder in his preparation.