MONROEVILLE – The first words Luke Wyvratt uses to describe himself as a player, without hesitation, are “hard worker.”
“I take a lot of pride in it,” Wyvratt, a 6-3, old-fashioned junior low-post player for the Ringgold High School boys basketball team said.
“It has been in the shadows until this summer, which was when I really started a big turnaround.”
The turnaround paid off in a big way Wednesday night.
With a hard-nosed attitude that manifested itself throughout his entire team, Wyvratt and teammate Chris Peccon sparked a 47-point second half to lead 9th-seeded Ringgold over No. 8 Freeport, 76-47, in a Class 4A first-round game at Gateway High School.
Wyvratt scored 10 of his 22 points in the third quarter, while Peccon added six. Ringgold (14-8) went on six-, seven- and 13-point runs to break open a back-and-forth game by outscoring the Yellow Jackets 26-8 in the third quarter.
“We executed the opening play of the second half perfectly,” Freeport coach Wayne Greiser said.
The layup on the opening possession gave Freeport (11-10) a one-point lead, 30-29.
“Then we couldn’t throw it in the ocean,” Greiser said. “Ringgold shot very well and defensively made us very uncomfortable. It’s been our (modus operandi) this year of having one bad quarter. That third quarter was it tonight.”
From trailing by one point 30 seconds into the third, the Rams led 55-36 when the buzzer sounded to end the quarter.
Ringgold advances to play top-seeded New Castle Saturday at a site and time to be determined. It is the first time the Rams have been in the quarterfinals since 1995 when they won the state championship. Their other playoff victories have been in play-in games to advance to the first round.
“What’s pretty cool is I was there then and am here now,” Pergola joked. “Tonight was huge for us, especially with the way we ended the year.”
Peccon, who finished with a game-high 24 points, extended the lead to more than 20 points with a basket to open the fourth quarter. Both Wyvratt and Peccon scored 14 points in the second half. Wyvratt also grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.
“Luke has been a monster all year long,” Pergola said. “He is old fashioned. People just don’t play low-post offense anymore, because they don’t play it they really don’t know how to defend it. He has just done a great job.”
Ringgold dominated on the boards and altered many of the Yellow Jackets’ shots when they entered the lane, a credit to post players Ben Lawrence and Wyvratt.
“Their length and physicality really affected us,” Greiser said. “This is playoff basketball, it’s more physical. They roughed us up.”