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Jack Hughes scores game-winning layup in Ridgefield’s 59-57 comeback triumph over Columbia River

Spudders climb back from 11 points down in the final quarter to grab key 2A GSHL win

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: January 4, 2024, 10:27pm
5 Photos
Ridgefield’s Jamison McCann drives toward the basket during a 2A Greater St. Helens League boys basketball game against Columbia River on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024, at Ridgefield High School.
Ridgefield’s Jamison McCann drives toward the basket during a 2A Greater St. Helens League boys basketball game against Columbia River on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024, at Ridgefield High School. (Will Denner/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

RIDGEFIELD — The play didn’t go exactly like the Ridgefield boys basketball team drew it up, and that was perfectly fine by the Spudders.

After Columbia River’s Ari Richardson scored a game-tying layup with six seconds left in Thursday’s 2A Greater St. Helens League game, Ridgefield advanced the ball to mid-court and took multiple timeouts. Spudders coach Jason Buffum wanted to get the ball in the hands of junior Jack Hughes.

“He was supposed to be the guy that caught it and make a play,” Buffum said. “He’s a very under-appreciated guy on our team, at times, because a lot of guys shoot a lot of 3’s and he doesn’t get enough touches. But he’s a grinder, man.”

Hughes received the inbounds pass, looking for senior sharp-shooters Cole Chester and Colten Castro. Both were closely-guarded in each corner, so instead, Hughes saw an opening to the basket and took it, putting through a game-winning layup as he drew contact from a River defender.

The clock expired before the Rapids could get a shot off, and the Spudders escaped with a 59-57 win after trailing by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter.

“We were just trying to get me the ball so I could try and drive, at least kick it out to somebody open in one of the corners,” Hughes said. “It just ended up being on my back side, so I took it to the hoop. … I was just going crazy, and there was no time left so I just started running back. It was awesome.”

The final result capped a spirited effort from a Ridgefield team that was reeling early as River built a 16-point lead in the first half led by Richardson (21 points) and Aaron Hoey (19 points).

The Spudders quickly cut into the deficit when they opened the third quarter with a trio of 3-pointers from Chester and Castro to get within four points.

The Rapids (8-5, 6-2), who entered the evening in first place of the 2A GSHL standings, pushed the lead back to double-digits with a Hoey jumper to open the fourth.

Ridgefield (7-4, 5-2) then opened up an 11-0 run over the next three-and-a-half minutes, capped off by a Chester steal and breakaway layup to tie the game at 51-51. The lead changed hands five times in the final three minutes, including Hughes’ game-winner.

“It really shows that we keep on going and pushing, even if we’re down by (16) like we were in that game,” Hughes said. “We just gotta keep pushing back and we’ll eventually get back to it.”

The 2A GSHL race has had its topsy-turvy moments during the opening month of the season, especially among leaders River, Mark Morris, R.A. Long and Ridgefield, all of whom have at least one league loss. The Spudders’ win Thursday, however, puts them right in the mix with a three-game slate next week against the likes of Woodland, Fort Vancouver and Mark Morris.

“Now it’s a situation where we can’t afford to lose any other games,” Buffum said. “We’ve played a lot of road games, we’ve got a little bit of a home stretch coming up and it’ll be nice if we can take care of business next week (in) a three-game week. … We want to be in the playoffs, whatever situation that is, one through four (or) five.”

RIDGEFIELD 59, COLUMBIA RIVER 57

COLUMBIA RIVER — Ari Richardson 21, Leslie McCulley 3, Adam Reeder 0, John Reeder 7, Miles Fitzwilson 6, Carter Sheron 0, Tyler Miles 2, Aaron Hoey 18, Nico Valdez 0. Totals 23 (9) 2-6 00.

RIDGEFIELD — Colten Castro 8, Colton Warren 5, Cole Chester 19, Jamison McCann 11, Jack Hughes 13, Kemp Fisher 3, Drew Krsul 0, Mason Curran 0. Totals 24 (9) 2-4 00.

Columbia River 21 16 12 8—57

Ridgefield 8 16 16 19—59

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