By Rich Rhoades
Here’s a quick look at the upcoming season with a quick look back.
Both Clarion-Limestone and Redbank Valley made deep runs into the state playoffs, but both teams lost enough to make a return trip to the PIAA quarterfinals a stretch.
Individually, just six of the 18 All-District players from last year are back, with five of those players — First-Teamers Jeremy Breier of Ridgway, Cole Morris of Union, and Second-Teamers Dan Callen of Clarion-Limestone, Will Myers of Clearfield and Nate DaCanal of Elk County Catholic — making up this year’s Preseason All-District team. STORY HERE.
Here’s what happened last year:
Allegheny Mountain League Championship: Elk County Catholic 47, Ridgway 46
North Tier League Tiebreaker Game: Cameron County 57, Coudersport 54
District 9 League: Elk County Catholic
Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference Championship: Clarion-Limestone 61, Redbank Valley 35
Class AAA: Clearfield 57, Punxsutawney 33
Class AA: Redbank Valley 40, Cranberry 36
Class A: Clarion-Limestone 72, Cameron County 53
Class A consolation: Elk County Catholic 56, Venango Catholic 48
Two teams made it to the state quarterfinals with Clarion-Limestone in Class A and Redbank Valley in Class AA while Elk County Catholic and Cameron County got past the first round with wins before bowing out in the second round.
And here’s the skinny going into this year:
TEAM-BY-TEAM SCOUTING REPORT
(By classification, with last year’s record in parenthesis)
Based on last year’s rosters:
A-C Valley (1-21): Senior Austin Heeter (10 ppg.) and junior Kody Wolfe (6.4 ppg.) were the top two scorers for the Falcons last year.
Austin (0-22): The Panthers head into the season on a 43-game losing streak. Senior Anderson Nicka (14.6 ppg.) led the team in scoring last year.
Cameron County (24-4): Mark Guido is the new coach for the Red Raiders, who return just two of their top six scorers, including seniors Trae Smith (11.7 ppg.) and Vinny Olivett (1.3 ppg.).
Clarion (5-17): The Bobcats have a new coach with Jess Quinn. He lost the Smith brothers to transfer in leading scorer Taylor Smith and his younger brother Christian. Junior Ceventh Lynch-Skunda (9.4 ppg.) and sophomore Cam Craig (6.5 ppg.) are back along with senior transfer Jonathan Smith, a 6-foot-5 senior previously from Waldorf, Md., a suburb of Washington D.C. Smith scored 5.2 points per game for his 13-12 team.
Clarion-Limestone (25-4): The defending Class A champion Lions lost five of their top seven scorers to graduation. Back are junior Dan Callen (12.5 ppg.), a Second-Team All-District and Preseason All-District selection and senior Noah Rankin (7 ppg.).
Coudersport (19-5): The Falcons have their top three scorers back in senior Darren Keglovits (14.9 ppg.), sophomore Jared Green (11.8 ppg.) and junior Zach Layag (10.5 ppg.).
DuBois Central Catholic (19-6): Senior Christian LaParne (12.8 ppg.) is the lone player out of the top five scorers returning.
Forest Area (6-16): Senior Nic Smail (6.6 ppg.) is the only player from the top five scorers back.
Elk County Catholic (26-3): Head coach Aaron Straub enters his 34th season with the Crusaders and he’s up to 737 wins with them and 764 overall. He has his top scorer back in junior Nate DaCanal (12.4 ppg.), a Second Team All-District and Preseason All-District player. Two others out of the team’s top seven scorers are back in seniors Kyle Huff (6.3 ppg.) and Ben Hoffman (5.5 ppg.).
Johnsonburg (12-12): The Rams have three of their top five scorers back with senior Kevin Benson (10.3 ppg.), junior Ryan Kilhoffer (5.6 ppg.) and junior Drew Akers (2.7 ppg.).
North Clarion (11-12): Three of the Wolves’ top seven scorers are back, led by seniors Zayn Hargenrader (14.4 ppg.), Danny Sherbine (2.2 ppg.) and Joe Mays (1.4 ppg.).
Northern Potter (5-17): Junior Tucker Kosa (5.9 ppg.) and senior Frank Gardner (5.8 ppg.) are the leading returning scorers.
Oswayo Valley (11-12): The Green Wave have their leading scorer back in senior Brandon Brabham (17.9 ppg.), a Third Team All-District pick last year.
Otto-Eldred (11-12): Only senior Heath Stewart (9 ppg.) returns from the team’s top five scorers. Junior Seth Drummond (6.7 ppg.) suffered a season-ending knee injury in football season and is unlikely to return.
Ridgway (21-4): Senior Jeremy Breier (17.9 ppg.), a First-Team All-District player last year and Preseason All-District pick, and senior Mitchell Stark (3.1 ppg.) are the leading returning scorers.
Sheffield (7-15): Rich Glover is the new coach of the Wolverines, who lost their top three scorers to graduation. Senior Logan Connolly (5.5 ppg.), junior Drew Higby (2.6 ppg.) and junior Austin Simmer (2 ppg.) are the top returning scorers.
Smethport (5-17): Senior Caleb O’Neal (7.2 ppg.) and junior Dalton Palmer (4.7 ppg.) are the leading returning scorers for the Hubbers.
Union (13-11): Senior Cole Morris (21.5 ppg.) was the district’s leading scorer. He earned First Team All-District honors along with Preseason All-District recognition. Sophomore Lucas Bowser (8.8 ppg.) and senior Hank Murphy (7.7 ppg.) helped make up three of the team’s top four scorers.
Venango Catholic (16-10): Senior Brady Kingston (13.3 ppg.) is the only player out of the top six scorers returning for new head coach Scott Walters.
Brockway (10-14): Four of the top five scorers return for the Rovers, including junior Jake Wineberg (8.1 ppg.), senior Jared Rogos (7.3 ppg.) and senior Corey Carr (4.9 ppg.).
Brookville (8-15): Seniors Kurt Schindler (9.3 ppg.) and Jordan Tosh (3.7 ppg.) are the only returning scorers out of the top five back for the Raiders.
Cranberry (19-6): The Berries lost their top three scorers to graduation. Leading scorers back are seniors Evan Lutz (7.4 ppg.), Brendan Zerbe (5.9 ppg.) and Dechlyn Sheffer (4 ppg.).
Curwensville (6-16): The Golden Tide have two of their top three scorers back, including top scorer in senior Jakob Terry (10.7 ppg.) and senior R.J. Olson (5.5 ppg.). Terry’s health status at least for the early part of the season is in doubt due to an injury he sustained in the football team’s final playoff game.
Kane (3-19): The Wolves have four of their top five scorers back, including leading scorer in juniors Andrew Bucheit (12.2 ppg.) and Davis Gardner (7.1 ppg.), and seniors Andy Bundy (5.5 ppg.) and Tyler Rolick (4 ppg.).
Karns City (12-10): The Gremlins lost their top five scorers to graduation and their top returners are football players in seniors Reese Barger (3 ppg.) and junior Chandler Turner (2.7 ppg.).
Keystone (5-17): Four of the top six leading scorers return for the Panthers, including junior Austin Ion (6.9 ppg.), senior Mason Rearick (3.9 ppg.), senior Braden Jones (3.7 ppg.) and senior Brayden Shick (3.4 ppg.).
Moniteau (10-14): The Warriors lost their top two scorers, but return three of their top six led by seniors Aaron Marterella (7.2 ppg.), J.J. Waid (3.3 ppg.) and Derek Boben (3 ppg.).
Port Allegany (13-10): Four of the top scorers are back for the Gators, led by top scorer in senior Jordan Seefeldt (14.9 ppg.). Also back are seniors Tre Garzel (9.4 ppg.), Dylan Kio (4.6 ppg.) and junior Brandon McCaslin (2.8 ppg.).
Redbank Valley (22-7): Emmanuel Marshall replaces Coach of the Year Greg Bean and takes over a Bulldogs team that lost four of their lost six scorers to graduation. Seniors Sam Heeter (9.3 ppg.) and Dalton Dougherty (7.7 ppg.) are the top returning scorers.
Bradford (4-17): Three of the Owls’ top seven scorers return, including leading scorer in sophomore Andy Pantuso (12.6 ppg.), senior Andrew Bacha (4.8 ppg.) and senior Tyler Nuzzo (3 ppg.).
Clearfield (20-4): Only third-leading scorer Erik Sellers was lost to graduation. Top scorers back for the Bison are the top-two scorers in juniors Will Myers (16.5 ppg.) and Tommy Hazel (13.8 ppg.), and senior Cody Spaid (9.6 ppg.).
Punxsutawney (11-12): The Chucks have their top three scorers back in senior Dylan Huey (10.6 ppg.), junior Ethan Riley (7.6 ppg.) and senior John Matthews (6.7 ppg.).
St. Marys (8-13): Five of the top eight scorers are back for the Dutch, who have their leading scorer back in senior Parker Housler (11 ppg.). Also back are seniors Brady Bauer (8.1 ppg.) and Nick Cunningham (5.3 ppg.).
DuBois (16-7): The Beavers have five of their seven top scorers back, including senior Zach Sloan (10.1 ppg.), junior Nick Labrasca (8.9 ppg.) and senior Dante Dawson (5.8 ppg.).