Feb. 23—Despite not residing in the same section, the St. Joseph and Apollo-Ridge girls basketball teams have played every year since the 2009-10 season.
That streak continued Monday as the Spartans and Vikings renewed pleasantries to open the final week of the regular season.
Behind 17 points apiece from sophomores Brinley Toland and Sydney McCray and 13 more from senior Morgan Gamble, Apollo-Ridge left St. Joseph with a 58-39 victory. It was the Vikings' fifth straight win over the Spartans.
Apollo-Ridge got off to a fast start as it connected on five of its first seven shots and forced five St. Joseph turnovers to build an 11-1 lead with 4 minutes, 47 seconds to play in the first quarter.
"We needed that start because St. Joseph is a good team and is well-coached," Vikings coach Ray Bartha said.
"We had some good defense early and made some key shots. We couldn't have drawn it up any better than that. The girls were hungry."
Monday's game was the first of four in as many days for Apollo-Ridge and the first of three straight for St. Joseph in advance of the WPIAL playoffs.
Apollo-Ridge (6-4) visits Greensburg Central Catholic on Tuesday in a rematch of a 46-42 Vikings' Section 4-2A victory on Feb. 8. They then close the regular season Wednesday at home against Class 4A Derry and Thursday at home against Saltsburg.
"We're playing those four in a row, which I don't normally like to do, but they will definitely get us ready for the playoffs," Bartha said.
St. Joseph (6-10) will play next-door neighbor Highlands on Tuesday before a game Wednesday at Union.
The WPIAL playoff brackets will be revealed Tuesday in a pairings show on the TribLive High School Sports Network.
Apollo-Ridge built on its early lead and held a 20-5 advantage at the end of the first quarter and was ahead 36-15 at the break.
The Vikings opened the third on a 7-0 run as Toland scored all seven for a 43-15 lead.
But St. Joseph responded with a 9-0 run. Junior Trinity Lockwood-Morris drained a pair of 3-pointers in the third, including one to beat the buzzer, to close the deficit to 46-27.
"We just didn't come out with the intensity we needed in the first quarter. We were just dead," St. Joseph coach Dennis Jones said. "That was not what I expected. We did play much better in the second half. We played them even."
St. Joseph was two points better than even in the second half, outscoring Apollo-Ridge, 24-22.
Lockwood-Morris led St. Joseph with 11 points, and senior Ally Swierczewski added 10 to go with nine rebounds.
Freshman Julie Spinelli, the Spartans' scoring leader at 13.5 points a game, was limited to seven. Fellow freshman Emma Swierczewski came off the bench to score seven.
McCray added eight rebounds for Apollo-Ridge, and senior Emily Bonelli tallied eight points in the win.
"Emily played a really good defensive game," Bartha said. "She helped us get out of the gate and did a nice job on Spinelli who can really shoot the ball well."
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .