As we inch closer to the potential beginning of the 2021 basketball season, D9Sports.com took some time to catch up with area coaches to ask them some questions about the upcoming season.
(Photo by: Jared Bakaysa)
Last season, both the Clarion Area boys and girls teams seized shocking upset wins to advance to the state playoffs. This year, both teams are looking to utilize their superior athleticism to rise to the top of the KSAC North and make another trip to the PIAA Playoffs.
Clarion Bobcats Girls Basketball
Coach: Jess Quinn
Last Season: 15-11 (5-5 in KSAC South, 4th)
Won 3rd place game in Class AA Playoffs, Lost in round one of PIAA Playoffs
Last season, a dramatic playoff upset allowed the Bobcats to sneak into the state playoffs as the sixth seed, toppling first seeded Ridgway to finish third in the Class AA Playoffs. This year, the Bobcats are looking to compete for a D9 title under new head coach Jess Quinn.
Quinn is excited to take charge of the Bobcats, and he is eager to take advantage of the athleticism and skill of his players, many of whom were on the State Championship winning volleyball squad. “You know you have some quality athletes and young ladies who are dedicated to being the best they can be,” said Quinn, when speaking of the pedigree of some of his key players. Erica Selfridge, Payton Simko, and Jordan Best are all volleyball athletes who are expected to play important roles for the Bobcat hoopers. Meanwhile, Ava Cherico will play a feature role for the Bobcats after her return from injury, while Noel Anthony is also slated to make a big impact in 2020-2021.
Despite the loss of head coach Roger Walter and the graduation of top scorer Kaitlyn Constantino, Quinn believes that his team’s unselfish approach will allow them to flourish on the court. “Our biggest strength is our “team” approach to what we want to do. The girls are very unselfish and take pride in each other’s success. These girls are incredibly coachable and I think that will lead to success for us on the floor,” said Quinn. If the Bobcats can fight through an unstable practice environment to gel as a squad, Clarion could be a potent offense without possessing a dominant scoring threat, a testament to Clarion’s team-first philosophy.
Clarion Bobcats Boys Basketball
Coach: Scott Fox
Last Season: 17-9 (7-3 KSAC South)
2nd in D9 Class AA Playoffs, Lost in Round Two of PIAA Playoffs
The Clarion Area Bobcats return several key players as they look to replicate last season’s playoff successes. After a strong regular season placed the 2019-2020 Bobcats in the D9 Class AA Playoffs as a #4 seed, Clarion defeated Karns City and upset #1 seed Keystone to gain a place in the state playoffs. This season, 20 point-per-game scorer Cal German returns, providing the Bobcats with a premium scoring threat. Hunter Craddock, Ethan Burford, Beau Verdill, and Christian Simko should be able to provide strong supplemental scoring and defense, with their athleticism and length posing problems for opposing offenses.
While the team lost Josh Craig, Nick Fredrick, and Skylar Rhodes to graduation, coach Scott Fox expects to see more time out of juniors Ryan Alston and Aidan Quinn, as well as the introduction of freshmen Dawson Smail and Gabe Simko to the varsity squad. Fox knows that his team’s “speed, athleticism, and height” is their biggest strength, and the Bobcats will need to leverage this advantage to rise to the top of the KSAC South.
Fox also pointed to strong team play as a necessity this season, which should enable the Bobcats to have a consistent offense while improving on their strong defensive performances last season. Clarion’s athleticism should keep them hanging around against any area opponent, and if the Bobcats can find a solid offensive rhythm, Clarion should be one of the frontrunners for a state playoff spot in 2021.
Clarion Girls Basketball Roster
Clarion Boys Basketball Roster