In fact, Concord made sure the favorite didn’t even make it to the title game. The Minutemen upset Northridge, 67-62, in a ferocious semifinal battle Friday, March 7.
Filip Serwatka and Ramon Johnson connected early and often, scoring 20 of Concord’s first 27 points and combining for a total of 40. But Nate Ritchie anchored the Raiders, scorching the post for 29 points and eight rebounds.
Ritchie scored all 10 of the Raiders' second quarter points.
"We rode his back all year," Northridge coach Ronnie Thomas said of Ritchie. "He did a lot for us. It's going to be weird not seeing Nate around next year."
It was a revenge game the Minutemen, who have now put away two teams that beat them in the regular season (Concord beat Elkhart Memorial in the opening round). Serwatka, who finished with a team-high 22 points, need a minute to take it all in.
"A million thoughts a second right now," he said after the game. "We obviously want to get back and beat them since we lost to them in the regular season. We wanted to come back and play as a team. We didn't have much pressure on us since we weren't the favorites."
For a game injected with break-neck speed, the two teams only combined for 13 turnovers. Blink, and you missed Johnson streaking down the court, dumping an impossible pass off to Serwatka or Tom Morrison. Blink again, and you missed Ritchie launching up for the rebound-basket.
The Minutemen shot a blistering 63.2 percent from the field, while hitting 16 of 22 free throws.
For a while, the two teams exchanged blows. But in the final two minutes, the Minutemen sealed off the Northridge basket and hit a few clutch free throws.
"Both team executed, both teams hit shots," Concord coach Steve Austin said. "It came down, we told the kids, to who will execute better and who wants it more. I thought down there at the end, we did a great job with that."
The Minutemen (14-8) got a boost from Adam Glanders, who is hitting his stride after sitting out most of the season following a hip procedure. Glanders had rallied back the latter part of the regular season and rode the wave into sectionals. He added 11 points and four rebounds to the Minutemen efforts.
"I'm sure he's enjoying every minute of it. I know I am," Austin said of Glanders. "He's pumped, I'm pumped. The team's pumped up."
Northridge finishes with an 18-3 record and a Northern Lakes Conference title a year after going 10-12.
"It was tough," Thomas said. "Concord played outstanding tonight. Offensively, they're efficient. Defensively, they stood us up, wouldn't let us get inside. Hats off to them, but it's a tough, close loss."
Concord will play Goshen (13-9) in the sectional championship game Saturday, March 8.
CLASS 4A ELKHART SECTIONAL
Concord 67, Northridge 62
Northridge — Sam Ahonen 2-3 1-2 5, Pete Smith 3-8 1-2 10, Kurtis Hochstettler 1-5 2-2 5, Tom Morrison 4-8 0-0 8, Nate Ritchie 10-16 6-9 29, Christian Bach 0-0 0-2 0, Collin Utley 2-8 0-0 5. Totals: 23-50 (.460) 10-15 (.667) 62.
Concord — Ramon Johnson 5-11 7-9 18, Adam Glanders 5-7 0-0 11, Brett Austin 2-3 0-0 4, Daniel McMahon 2-3 3-4 8, Filip Serwatka 8-10 6-9 22, Jacob Kronk 0-2 0-0 0, Korey Phillips 2-2 0-0 4. Totals: 24-38 (.632) 16-22 (.727) 67.
Scoring By Quarters
Northridge — 17 10 18 17 — 62
Concord — 18 15 15 19 — 67
3-point goals: Northridge (5-18) — Smith 3, Hochstetler, Utley; Concord (3-7) —McMahon, Johnson, Glanders .
Rebounds: Northridge (23) — Ritchie 8; Concord (23) — Serwatka 8, Glanders 4.
Steals: Northridge (1) ; Concord (3).
Turnovers: Northridge 8, Concord 5.
Total fouls: Northridge 18, Concord 14. Fouled out — Ahonen.
Records: Northridge 18-3; Concord 14-8.
Next: Concord vs. Goshen in Elkhart 4A sectional championship Saturday, March 8.