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D9Sports Tournament of Champions Girls’ Title Game: ’20 North Clarion vs. ’18 North Clarion

The moment everyone has been waiting for is here. It’s the D9Sports Tournament of Champions girls’’ championship game.

(Photo: 2020 North Clarion (left) celebrates its KSAC Championship, while 2018 North Clarion (right) celebrates its D9 1A title. 2020 photo by Jared Bakaysa)

The championship contest pits a pair of North Clarion teams against each other as the 2020 She-Wolves, the fifth seed out of the West Region takes on the 2018 She-Wolves, the fourth seed out of the South Region.

Here is how this works. You have until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday to vote for which team you think is the best team in the Era (2001-present).

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(5-E) 2020 North Clarion vs. (4-S) 2018 North Clarion

A pair of Terry Dreihaup-coached teams that share one common starter in Abby Gatesman, a sophomore in 2018 and a senior in 2020, meet up in this battle that could be played at either St. Michael’s Church in Fryburg or St. Joseph’s Church in Lucinda if you are looking for a “neutral” site.

To reach the D9Sports Tournament of Champions title game, 2020 North Clarion beat No. 12 2015 Karns City (65 percent to 35 percent), No. 13 2008 St. Marys (54 percent to 46 percent), No. 9 2010 West Forest (57 percent to 43 percent), No. 2 2017 North Clarion (66 percent to 34 percent) to reach this point, and 2006 Coudersport, the seventh seed out of the East Region, (71 percent to 29 percent).

In reaching the D9Sports Tournament of Champions title game, 2018 North Clarion topped No. 13 2003 Karns City (56 percent to 44 percent), No. 5 2010 St. Marys (53 percent to 47 percent), No. 9 2019 Punxsutawney (63 percent to 37 percent), No. 2 2019 Kane (63 percent to 37 percent), and 2019 North Clarion, the 14th seed out of the Midwest Region (55 percent to 45 percent).

The 2020 She-Wolves 26-1 in the COVID-19 virus put a halt to their season in the PIAA Quarterfinals. The lone loss came 42-40 to Coudersport in the District 9 Class 1A championship game stopping a string of three D9 titles in a row. North Clarion bounced back from that loss to beat Sewickley Academy, 47-36, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs before knocking off defending state champion Berlin Brothersvalley, 62-43, in the second round. They were slated to play WPIAL champion Rochester in the quarterfinals when the PIAA suspended play. North Clarion was led by four seniors including Gatesman, the All American Awards & Engraving District 9 Player of the Year and a Clarion University recruit, who was an all-state selection as a junior. Gatesman was averaging 14.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 5.1 apg, and 3.1 spg while hitting 49 3-pointers when the stoppage occurred and had amassed 1,232 career points while being named the KSAC MVP. Third-team All-D9 selection Mackenzie Bauer (11.6 ppg, 4.0 spg, 2.9 apg), Gabby Schmader (8.5 ppg, 2.6 apg, 2.2 spg, 32 3-pointers), and Haley Sherman (9.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 52.3 percent shooting) were the other three key seniors on the team.

North Clarion in 2018 went 27-1 and beat A-C Valley, 52-49, to win the District 9 Class 1A title, its second in a row, and then topped Cornell, 54-46, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs before losing in overtime to Farrell, 63-58, in the second round. Senior Tori Obenrader was the District 9 Player of the Year for the second straight year and a first-team Class 1A All-State player for the second consecutive year after averaging 24.2 points and 15.1 rebounds per game while adding 3.5 assists, 2.6 steals, and 1.5 blocks per contest. She recorded double-doubles in 24 of her 28 games and scored 25 or more points 13 times while topping 30 points three times. She also had 15 or more rebounds 16 times, including four games of at least 20, and shot 54.5 percent from the field while hitting 36 3-pointers. She finished her career with a school-record 2,115 points, the fifth-most in D9 history, and 1,560 rebounds. She is currently playing at NCAA D2 Gannon where she led the Knights to the PSAC Title and was named the PSAC Tournament MVP after also garnering first-team All-PSAC West honors in 2020 after being the PSAC West Freshman of the Year in 2019. Dreihaup was named the District 9 Coach of the Year along with Brookville’s Mark Powell.

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