CLARION, Pa. – With the close of the decade of the teens, it is time to name the All American Awards & Engraving/D9Sports.com All-Decade District 9 Boys’ Basketball team.
(Photo of Cameron County’s Nate Sestina. Photo by Paul Burdick. Check out more of Burdick’s work here)
The team includes three players who earned multiple D9Sports.com Player/co-Player of the Year awards, the all-time leading scorer in District 9 history and perhaps the District 9 boys’ player to achieve the most in basketball after high school – although post-high school accomplishments aren’t part of the equation.
OWEN CHAMBERS, COUDERSPORT: 2016-19
Simply put, Chambers was a scorer. The sharpshooter became District 9’s all-time leading scorer during his senior campaign and finished his career with 2,269 points.
A two-time D9Sports.com District 9 Player of the Year (2018 and 2019), Chambers was a three-time All-District 9 first-team selection (2017-19) after earning a second-team choice as a sophomore.
Helping Coudersport to four District 9 title game appearances (one in Class 1A and three in Class 2A), Chambers led the Falcons to the 2017 and 2018 Class 2A championship.
He averaged over 30 points per game his senior season becoming the first player in 20 years in District 9 to do so.
Perhaps his signature moment came in one of his final games when, in a tie game in the first round of the 2019 PIAA Class 2A playoffs, he stole the ball from South Side Beaver in the waning seconds and drilled a 3-pointer at St. Marys High School to win the game.
Chambers is currently red-shirting at Mercyhurst.
NATE SESTINA, CAMERON COUNTY: 2012-15
The premier big man of the decade, Sestina routinely wowed local basketball fans with his dunking ability and was pretty much unstoppable inside.
Finishing his career with 1,698 points, Sestina was the 2015 District 9 co-D9Sports.com District 9 Player of the Year and was a three-time All-District 9 selection including a first-team choice as a junior and a senior and a second-team selection as a sophomore.
As a senior in 2015, he helped Cameron County to a second-place finish in District 9 Class 1A and the Red Raiders’ first PIAA appearance since 1972.
Going onto an outstanding career at Bucknell, Sestina helped the Bison to Patriot League crowns and NCAA Division I tournament appearances in 2017 and 2018. He was also named a second-team All-Patriot League performer in 2019 when he averaged 15.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
But Sestina’s college experience didn’t end with Bucknell. With a year of eligibility left, Sestina decided to accept a graduate transfer offer from college-basketball blueblood Kentucky. In nine games so far this season with the Wildcats, Sestina has made six starts and is averaging 7.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
CAMERON GRUMLEY, JOHNSONBURG: 2011-14
COLE PETERSON, JOHNSONBURG: 2011-14
Usually, we try to give each player a separate bio in something like this, but it is undeniable that Cameron Grumley and Cole Peterson are two names that will always go hand-in-hand when it comes to Johnsonburg basketball.
The duo led the Rams to a pair of District 9 Class 1A championship games (2012 and 2013) while capturing the 2013 District 9 title.
That was just the beginning of the story. In the PIAA playoffs, Grumley and Peterson led Johnsonburg to perhaps the biggest upset in the history of District 9 PIAA hoops when they knocked off heavily favored Lincoln Park, who had reached the PIAA title game in each of the previous two seasons, in the semifinals. A loss to Vaux in the championship game didn’t diminish the best season in Johnsonburg boys’ basketball history.
Grumley and Peterson were twice named the co-D9Sports.com District 9 Players of the Year winning the award in both 2013 and 2014. In addition, Grumley was also a third-team All-District 9 selection as a sophomore in 2012.
In keeping with the inseparable theme, the two scored nearly identical career totals with Peterson netting 1,598 career points – second in Johnsonburg history – and Grumley scoring 1,513 career points – third in Rams history.
Grumley went on to an outstanding college basketball career at Clarion University where he became a 1,000-point scorer.
Peterson chose baseball – the duo helped Johnsonburg win the 2013 PIAA Class 1A baseball crown – and that has paid off. After a great career at St. Bonaventure, Peterson was selected in the 13th round of the 2017 Major League Baseball draft by the Detroit Tigers. An infielder, he advanced as a high as Class AAA in 2019 playing four games with the Toledo Mud Hens but spent the majority of the season in high Class A with the Lakeland Tigers and Class AA with the Erie SeaWolves.
RJ LAUGAND, CLARION-LIMESTONE: 2012-15
One of the best point guards to put on a uniform in District 9 during the decade, Laugand helped Clarion-Limestone wins its first District 9 title since 1961 when the Lions beat Cameron County for the 2015 Class 1A crown.
That season, he was named the co-D9Sports.com District 9 Player of the Year with Sestina. He was also a first-team All-District 9 selection in 2014 and a second-team choice in 2013 after being named the D9Sports.com District 9 Rookie of the Year in 2012.
Laugand finished his career as the eighth-leading scorer in District 9 history with 1,832 career points (now ninth overall).
His most memorable high school game may have come in his next-to-last high school contest when he scored 20 points and dished out an unreal 21 assists in a 97-90 win over Vincentian Academy in the second round of the 2015 PIAA playoffs.
Laugand went on to have a solid career at Clarion University where he earned a starting role by his senior season and scored 283 career points while dishing out 158 career assists.
Editor’s Note: Players were chosen for their high school accomplishments. Post-high-school stats were not taken into consideration. Keep in mind choosing five players from a list of hundreds if not thousands of players from the decade is never an easy undertaking, and with any such list can be left to the interpretation of those selecting the team. Debates are always welcome.