GLEN RIDGE, NJ (updated Wednesday March 8, 1:07 p.m.) – The Glen Ridge High School boys’ varsity basketball team’s terrific season unfortunately came to a heartbreaking end.
The top-seeded Ridgers lost to seventh-seeded Newark University, 53-51, on a put-back buzzer-beating shot in the championship game of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 1 state tournament on Monday night, March 6, in a packed, raucous gym at GRHS.
The Ridgers, under 11th-year head coach Liam Carr, finished the season with a stellar 23-6 record.
Junior guard Tyler Liddy scored 22 points; sophomore Liam Gunnarsson had 13 points; junior Avery Hackett and senior Max Thompson each had six points and Ryan Liddy and George Kinzler each had two points for the Ridgers, who entered the game on an eight-game winning streak. The Ridgers’ previous loss was in the Essex County Tournament preliminary third round against Christ the King Prep, 62-51, Feb. 10, in Newark.
GRHS reached the section final for the first time since 1988 when it won the section title.
The Ridgers led 26-22 at the half and extended it to 32-27 three minutes into the third quarter. University rallied for a 36-34 lead before the game was tied 36-36 at the end of the third quarter. Tyler Liddy hit four-of-four free throws to break a tie and give GRHS a 47-43 lead with two minutes remaining in regulation. University answered with six straight points on a shot and four free throws to lead 49-47. Gunnarsson tied it 49-all on an elbow jumper with 40.4 seconds left. University answered with two free throws, before Ryan Liddy, Tyler’s brother, made two free throws to tie it 51-51 with 14.7 seconds remaining.
On the next possession, University’s Alquan Dwight missed a foul-line jumper, but D’Andre Collins grabbed the rebound and scored on a put-back shot at the buzzer for his only points of the game to win it.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Ridgers had a terrific run.
Tyler Liddy scored 21 points and senior Charlie DeLuca had nine points to lead GRHS to a 65-37 win over No. 16 seed North Star Academy in the first round on Feb. 28 at home. Thompson had eight points; junior David Weissenberger had seven points; Gunnarsson had six points; junior Avery Hackett posted five points and Ryan Liddy contributed four points.
Tyler Liddy scored 13 points and Hackett had eight points in the 56-31 home win over eighth-seeded Newark Collegiate Academy in the quarterfinals on March 2. DeLuca had seven points; Gunnarsson, Thompson and Weissenberger each had six points; Ryan Liddy and freshman Joe DeLuca each had two points and sophomore Simon Low added a free throw.
Thompson had 15 points; Liddy had 13 points and Gunnarsson had 11 points to lead the Ridgers to a 64-56 home win over 12th-seeded Shabazz in the semifinals on Saturday, March 4.
Charlie DeLuca and Kinzler each had eight points; Weissenberger had four points and Ryan LIddy added three points. After trailing 15-13 at the end of the first quarter, the Ridgers outscored Shabazz, 15-11, in the second quarter for a 28-26 halftime lead. Shabazz cut it to 44-43 at the end of the third quarter, but the Ridgers maintained control with a 20-13 fourth quarter to win it.
NOTES: The Liddy brothers’ father, Tim Liddy, is the current GRHS athletic director who was a senior on the 1988 GRHS boys’ basketball state section-winning team. Tim Liddy also was a head coach of the GRHS boys’ basketball team before becoming athletic director. He was succeeded by Carr, a 1995 GRHS graduate and former standout basketball player for the Ridgers.