By Kedrick Storey
RIPLEY – Cannan Ratliff led four Ripley Tigers in double digits with a game-high 25 points on Friday, including four key free throws in the fourth quarter to help them hold off the New Albany Bulldogs 84-81 in a key Division 2-4A battle that went to the wire.
Ripley looked to run away with the game early, leading by as many as 20 points in the second quarter, but the Bulldogs battled back and made it a 78-77 game following a Marques Barton three-pointer and Robert Franklin steal and layup with 34.2 seconds to play.
While Ratliff was perfect on two trips to the line, New Albany purposely missed the back end of a pair of two-shot free throws but failed to secure the rebounds.
“I thought New Albany came back with a whole lot of heart and our kids could have folded there because New Albany made a whole lot of big shots,” said Ripley coach Grant Gardner. “Our kids continued to hold them at arms length and they wanted to win there at the end.”
For Ripley (8-0, 2-0), Malik Pearson added 15 points before leaving with an injured knee, Isaiah Howard added 13 points and 19 rebounds and Marquelles Edgeston 10.
New Albany (6-2, 1-1) had five in double figures, including 15 points each from Franklin and Miles Washington and 13 bench points from Denori Berry. However, head coach Brad Gray blamed himself for his team not being prepared.
“It’s disappointing and sad when you have a big division game against a perennial rival and our kids don’t come out ready to play. That’s my fault as a coach,” said Gray. “I obviously didn’t do a good job of preparing them and getting them ready to play for 32 minutes.”
(G) Ripley 61, New Albany 54: Ripley’s Matavia Cox had a double double with 22 points and 10 rebounds to help the Lady Tigers fight off the Lady Bulldogs, who led 42-40 after three quarters. Kayla Parker had 17 points for New Albany (8-1, 1-1).