DCCC guard Rico Geter had a big night scoring 29 points to help lead the Storm past the UNC JVs on Wednesday. Times Photo/Frank Rauccio
Matt Ridge is, and forever will be, a part of the University of North Carolina basketball family. But after Wednesday’s 101-69 demolition by Davidson County Community College over his alma mater’s junior varsity team, he might be considered more of a stepchild.
Having played in the Carolina blue for two seasons on the UNC JV team, coach Ridge has experienced the feeling of donning a uniform with North Carolina written across the front. On Wednesday, he also realized how special it feels to beat the program in which he once competed.
It was a memorable night for everyone in the Storm community and Ridge intends on enjoying it for a little while, but there are bigger prizes ahead for him and his team to claim.
“We hope when we look back on the season it is not the highlight,” he said in a phone interview on Friday. “We are trying to keep things in perspective and use it as a confidence builder.
As coach of the Storm, Ridge entered the game 0-3 against the Tar Heels — the most recent loss at the Dean E. Smith Center where UNC won 81-69. North Carolina came in undefeated, but left with a thumping that made the bus ride back to Chapel Hill quite long.
Shockingly, DCCC was up 22 at halftime, playing one of its finest halves of basketball to date. Everyone in the building was aware of what the scoreboard read during play, except for the Storm coaching staff.
“I honestly try not to look at the score in the first half,” Ridge said. “It is funny, because at halftime we came in and coach (Brandon) Mullis said, ‘I didn’t know we were up 22 until I walked in here.’” I told him that is a sign of a great coach, because you are focused on what we are doing and not the scoreboard.”
Now aware of his team’s status, Ridge proceeded to give a halftime speech he has heard several times before.
“I told them the same message I heard for four years at Carolina — No basketball game is won or lost in the first half,” said Ridge.
The team was slow in response to the message to start the second half, allowing two UNC baskets in the first minute. The Storm burned a timeout to get refocused, and it was all DCCC after that. A 15-1 run doubled-up the Tar Heels, making the hyped up event quite uneventful for the last 14 minutes.
Still not all that worried about the score, Ridge finally looked up at the scoreboard at the time DCCC held its largest lead of the night and was stunned at what it read.
“We were up 80-42 and I looked up at the scoreboard and was a little taken back,” he said. “I think it was the most complete game we have played this year.”
Defense set the tone for Davidson. The guard pressure applied by Phillip Williams, Justin Glover and Derrick Mayo caused UNC turnovers and disrupted their offensive sets.
The offense was not that shabby either. DCCC nailed 12 of 20 from 3-point land, getting the ball to wide open shooters for much of the night who made big shot after big shot.
Having never beaten the Tar Heels, there could have been a lot of added pressure for Ridge, but he saw it as any other game, despite it being the same team he played for years ago.
“Pressure is something self-inflicted,” he said. “I feel pressure every game whether we are playing Piedmont Baptist or the UNC JV team. I honestly didn’t feel any more pressure against UNC than I did against Piedmont.”
The Tar Heels play just one away game each season, so the chances of them coming to Brinkley Gym again next season is unlikely. Considering the outcome, they may not want to come back anyway, but Ridge has already planted the seed for next season asking UNC coach Jerod Haase to put in a word to the staff for next season to once again schedule a home and home.
Regardless, it was an accomplishment that can never be taken away from Ridge, his staff and his players.
The record may read UNC, 3, DCCC, 1, but that one is all that matters for now.