With La Salle smartly pounding the ball inside to 6-foot-7 forward Dave Krmpotich against undersized Ridley, Shawn Witherspoon had no problem with going scoreless - on just one field-goal attempt in - the first half.

"Not at all," the senior combination guard said. "I don't concern myself with points. 'Krmp' was going off, so we kept giving it to him."

Scoring chances finally surfaced for Witherspoon in Saturday afternoon's PIAA Class AAAA state hoops opener, and he capitalized as usual. His 13 second-half points, including 10 in the third quarter, helped the Explorers advance with a hard-earned, 58-54 triumph at Spring-Ford.

"I try to do it in the flow of the game," Witherspoon said. "If it's not there, it's not there. It's better to be patient than to force things."

Witherspoon, who played a key role in La Salle's surprising drive to the state final last year, drilled a pair of third-quarter three-pointers. His driving, left-handed layup gave the Explorers a 45-40 lead.

"We had trouble getting our guards into the lane in the first half," Krmpotich said. "We drew up a strategy in the locker room to fix that."

Witherspoon shot 3 for 6 from the field (2 for 2 on threes) and 5 for 6 from the line. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder's next stop is Nyack College (Warriors boss Jason Crafton was on hand Saturday) in New York.

Next for the Explorers (20-6) is a second-round matchup Wednesday vs. District 2 champ Abington Heights (22-3) at a neutral site and time to be determined. Krmpotich (eight rebounds, three blocks) squeezed 10 of his game-high 22 points into the second quarter. With La Salle ahead by 52-48 and 2:05 to play, the Colgate recruit was whistled for his fourth foul.

Senior guard Najee Walls (11 points) came up big for Joe Dempsey's squad in the late going. His layup made it 54-48 at the 1:44 mark. After Ridley notched back-to-back inside tallies, he went 4 for 4 from the line in the last 26 seconds.

Junior guard Brett Foster paced the Green Raiders (22-8) with 20 points, four assists, and four boards. "He goes to the rim very well," Dempsey said. "He's as good as any guard we've seen all year."

After La Salle took a 40-31 advantage in the third stanza, Foster and Ameer Staggs (18 points, six rebounds) nailed treys to get the Central League titlists back within reach.

La Salle 14 13 20 11 - 58

Ridley 12 13 15 14 - 54

LS: Najee Walls 11, Dan Corr 6, Dave Krmpotich 22, Shawn Witherspoon 13, Ryan McTamney 6.

R: Brett Foster 20, Ryan Bollinger 2, Ameer Staggs 18, Justin Dawson 2, Julian Wing 12.