Basketball blows past Barrington, looks towards Fremd


By Paul Evers, staff writer
Regardless of the questions being asked by the host Barrington Broncos in Wednesday night’s regional semifinal, junior Michael Ritchie had the answer.
Ritchie checked into the game after watching Barrington cut Prospect’s early first-quarter lead in half, the score 8-4. He focused in, came out, and hit a wide open corner three, pushing Prospect to a seven point lead in an 11-4 game.
Barrington answered back with two quick baskets to cut Prospect’s lead to three, 11-8. Ritchie found himself open for a long jumper and swished it home to put Prospect up five, 13-8, late in the first.
Halfway through the second quarter, Barrington was still hanging around, only down six in a 18-12 game. Ritchie came down and hit a three from the top of the key to push the Knight’s lead to nine, 21-12.
Barrington fought back in the third quarter, trying to put pressure on the Knights by cutting their lead down to nine again in now a 33-24 game. Ritchie found himself wide open in the corner for another three pointer and made the shot, putting the Knights up by 12 points, 36-24.
The Knights lead never got below double digits the rest of the night, on their way to defeating the Barrington Broncos (14-14) by a score of 57-41 and earning themselves a matchup with Fremd in Friday night’s regional championship game. Ritchie was a big factor in that, and he felt he was focused on one goal from the start.
“My mindset heading in was just [to] do what I could to help the team win,” said Ritchie, who finished with 11 points, 3-of-3 on three pointers, 3 rebounds and 3 blocks. “Give it my all, hustle, get boards, get steals.”
Led by the play of junior Frankie Mack (16 points, 6-of-6 from the free throw line) and steadied off the bench by Ritchie and sophomore David Swedura (13 points, 7-of-9 from the free throw line), the Knights (15-11) were able to earn themselves a trip to the regional final game.
Ritchie could feel his team’s confidence throughout the game.
“It’s a great win for the team. We knew we were going to win the whole time, “ Ritchie said.
Coach John Camardella was impressed with the Ritchie’s preparedness off the bench.
“Talk about a kid ready to play. [Ritchie] stepped right in [and] came off the bench ready to shoot,” Camardella said. “We asked him to guard Jackson Perkins who’s a big kid.
“He was in there fighting, I think he had two or three blocks from the weak side.
“He’s always ready, Michael is a talented young man and he’s continuing to grow. He’s learning how to play with speed and strength, and I don’t know how high his ceiling is. I don’t know if he knows how high his ceiling is.”
Along with the depth Ritchie provided, Camardella was pleased with the other depth his team showed in such a pivotal game.
“We feel at times that we have seven or eight starters, and tonight was another perfect example of guys just stepping in and putting [the] team first and playing,” Camardella said. “So when [your depth] comes out in a state tournament game, you’re extra happy.”
Barrington’s inside attack from Perkins (12 points, 5 offensive rebounds) and Will Reinhard (8 points, 4 offensive rebounds) led the Broncos. However, Barrington missed their first 11 three-pointers and missed their first 8 free-throws.
Barrington ended up shooting 1-of-16 from behind the arc and 4-of-13 from the free throw line. Ritchie felt the team was successful as a team with their defensive effort.
“As a team, we did well. We held off the right guys, and we read the right reads,” Ritchie said. “We rebounded pretty well against a huge team so we did what we needed to to win.”
Camardella focused in on the defensive game plan the Knights brought in to control Barrington’s attack.
“Without a doubt [there were some matchups we liked], and we were running a couple of different guys at different people,” Camardella said. “For us, in order to really set the tone, we have to guard the perimeter first and as we always say, keep guys out of the middle, and that allows us to rotate.”
The Knights, as a young team, are beginning to experience high pressure games, such as last week’s 41-35 loss at Conant in the MSL Championship game. Camardella sees his team growing in the light of this adversity.
“I would be very honest if I said that [we] were very disappointed [about last week] and we didn’t play that well … but I think it was the first time that these guys felt that pressure, and that level of ‘lights,’” Camardella said. “We spent a lot of time in practice doing film this week and walking through stuff, helping these guys grow.
“What I told them when they came out, what I told them at halftime, things never get easier, you just get tougher. I felt that’s how we were going with the approach to this game.”
Along with those high pressure games, the Knights are experiencing high pressure road games. Even though Barrington was technically a neutral site for the regional playoffs, the Broncos clearly had the home court advantage.
Camardella feels that even this road adversity is just another step for this team to be successful.
“If you think of how we finished our season, we had to win at Hersey, and then we had to go Elk Grove at Elk Grove, at Conant, now at Barrington,” Camardella said. “We want to win championships, and you have to win on the road. These guys know that.”
Next up for the Knights is a challenge against the second seeded Fremd Vikings (22-6) on Friday night in the regional final. Ritchie understands the challenge Fremd presents.
“Fremd is a pretty good team, they’re one of the best teams in the [MSL] West,” Ritchie said. “We can only look to play well and hustle and get boards and play as a team.”
Camardella is excited because he feels that his squad has played a similar team to Fremd.
“What’s great about this is Fremd runs pretty much the same stuff that Barrington runs,” Camardella said. “They have two bigs. They work high-low much like Barrington [does].”
Even with similar styles, Camardella still distinguishes between the teams.
“We still have our work cut out for us. Fremd is a very good seasoned team, and they don’t beat themselves,” Camardella said. “So [Thursday] is a big day for us film wise and scout wise, and we’ll go from there.”
Camardella is only focused on one thing truly: the opportunity to be regional champions for the first time since 2009.
“This is big. This is a really big deal,” Camardella said. “So it’s back to work.”
Re-watch the regional game below with a joint broadcast from ProspectorNow and Barrington’s BHS TV.