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Sheffield drops finale to Ridgway

Times Observer photos by Brian Hagberg Sheffield’s Matt Dunham shares an embrace with assistant coach Jordan Copely after exiting the Ralph J. Santo Gymnasium floor for the final time as a Wolverine, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. Dunham, who returned to action following a severe leg injury, was so overcome with emotion (INSET) that he had to hold his head in his hands for a few moments before being able to cheer on his teammates through the final seconds of the evening’s contest.

Ridgway came to Sheffield Wednesday and left with a 68-41 win.

But the game itself seemed more like an afterthought for both teams.

The Elkers had their sights set on the Allegany Mountain League playoffs set to begin today. The Wolverines were focused on trying to make sure their three seniors, Kyle Bandy, Storm Stoltz and Matt Dunham, received the proper sendoff for their final game in a Sheffield uniform.

Ridgway jumped out to a 22-6 lead in the first quarter, but the highlight was undoubtedly Bandy knocking down a short-range jump shot to put Sheffield on the board. The home crowd rose to its feet in appreciation and cheered Bandy all the way to the defensive end of the court.

“Kyle just came out this year,” Sheffield coach Mike Knapp said. “He’s been working really hard and totaled 15 points through the JV season.”

Times Observer photos by Brian Hagberg Sheffield’s Matt Dunham shares an embrace with assistant coach Jordan Copely after exiting the Ralph J. Santo Gymnasium floor for the final time as a Wolverine, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. Dunham, who returned to action following a severe leg injury, was so overcome with emotion (INSET) that he had to hold his head in his hands for a few moments before being able to cheer on his teammates through the final seconds of the evening’s contest.

Ridgway’s methodical offense worked to perfection throughout the first half. The Elkers never trailed and worked the clock to prevent the Wolverines from trying to make a run.

“Coach Allegretto is a class act,” Knapp said. “He runs that program the right way.”

Three consecutive 3-pointers from Tyler Hepinger, Jake Vinopal and Tony Richards cut into the Ridgway lead late in the second quarter, but the teams played evenly the rest of the way as the Elkers salted it away.

Still, the home fans had reason to stay til the end. Stotlz put in a layup late in the period that again brought the fans to their feet.

“Storm has came out as a freshman and has worked really hard every year,” Knapp said. “It was important to us for him to have a good last game.”

Times Observer photo by Brian Hagberg Sheffield’s Kyle Bandy takes a jump shot during the first quarter of a game against Ridgway at Sheffield High School, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. Bandy, a senior, was recognized prior to the game and scored the Wolverines’ first two points of the contest.

With just under two minutes to go, Knapp made substitutions that brought Stotlz and Bandy off the floor for the final time.

After scoring six fourth quarter points and with just 30 seconds left in regulation, Knapp gave Dunham his moment. To a standing ovation and through embraces from coaches and teammates, the inspirational leader of the Wolverines made his way to the bench. Overcome with emotion, Dunham buried his head in his hands for a few seconds before cheering his teammates as the clock ticked to zero.

“Matt is an irreplaceable kid,” Knapp said. “Not just as a player, but what he gives on and off the court. He’s a hard worker, he’s coachable. It’s rare to find everything you want in one kid.”

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Ridgway (68)

Reynolds 6-0-0-16, Dush 7-2-2-16, Da. Allegretto 5-0-0-10, Thompson 4-0-0-8, Park 3-0-0-6, Rohe 2-0-0-4, Zameraski 2-0-0-4, Bon 2-0-0-4, Simon 0-0-0-0, Do. Allegretto 0-0-0-0, Salberg 0-0-0-0, Gresco 0-0-0-0, Team 31-2-2-68

Sheffield (41)

Vinopal 6-2-2-15, Hepinger 5-0-0-13, Dunham 1-4-4-6, Richards 1-0-0-3, Bandy 1-0-0-2, Stoltz 1-0-0-2, McNeal 0-0-0-0, Johnson 0-0-0-0, Benjamin 0-0-0-0, Kyler 0-0-0-0, Team 15-6-6-41

By quarters

Ridgway 22 16 12 18 – 68

Sheffield 6 11 11 13 -41

3-point FGs: Ridgway (4)-Reynolds 4. Sheffield (5)-Hepinger 3, Vinopal, Richards.

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