CLARION, Pa. – Seven District 9 boys’ basketball teams are set for the PIAA playoffs which get underway Friday and Saturday.
Five of the D9 squads are in action Friday with Elk County Catholic, Coudersport, Ridgway and Union all in the A bracket and Clearfield in the AA bracket. Class AA teams Kane and Brockway will play Saturday.
(9-1) Elk County Catholic (27-0) vs. (7-5) Eden Christian (22-4)
When and where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 4, at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym
Winner gets: Farrell vs, Monessen winner
About ECC: The Crusaders won their first D9 title since 2011 but are in the PIAA playoffs for the third straight year and for the 18th time in the last 19 years with 17 of those appearances coming in Class A … During that stretch, ECC 12-4 in first-round games including 9-0 when it its the D9 champion … Last year, as the third-place team out of D9, the Crusaders beat Bishop Carroll, 56-50, practically in BC’s front yard … This is just the third time in its history ECC has entered the PIAA Playoffs unbeaten. In 2001, the Crusaders were 26-0 entering the PIAA postseason and won two games before losing in the quarterfinals to Kennedy Christian. Then, in 2006, ECC was 28-0 entering the PIAA postseason and swept its way to the only PIAA title in school history beating Leechburg, Southern Fulton, Kennedy Catholic, Blairsville and Bishop Hoban along the way … This year’s team is led by three players scoring in double figures. Junior guard Nate DaCanal leads the way averaging 13.9 ppg, while another junior, Gabe Kraus, adds 11.4 ppg and senior forward Kyle Huff 10.7 ppg.
About Eden Christian: The Warriors are making a second straight trip to the PIAA playoffs having lost, 73-45, to Kennedy Catholic last year … This year, Eden made it the hard way losing to Jeannette, 64-59, in the quarterfinals and then beating Vincentian Academy and Clairton in play-in bracket to grab the fifth and final seed out of the WPIAL … Dave Ritchie was key in the win over Clairton scoring 27 points while going 15 of 15 from the free throw line including a perfect 10 of 10 in the fourth quarter when the Warriors outscored the Bears 22-10 … Additional key players for Eden include Drew Aiken and Blake Carpenter.
(9-2) Coudersport (22-3) vs. (6-3) Bishop Guilfoyle (16-9)
When and where: 7 p.m. Friday, March 4, at Kane High School
Winner gets: Kennedy Catholic vs. Jeanette winner
About Coudersport: The Falcons are in the PIAA postseason for the first time since 2010 when they finished fourth in D9 and lost to Sewickley Academy in the opening round. Coudersport is seeking its first PIAA playoff win since 2008 when it beat Homer-Center in the opening round and Union-New Castle in the second round before losing to Kennedy Catholic in the quarterfinals … The Falcons are a young and deep team with only leading scorer Darren Keglovits (16.4 ppg) a senior among the top four scorers. Sophomore Jared Green adds 13.8 ppg while freshman sharp-shooter Owen Chambers chips in 12.8 ppg and junior Aaron Wolfinger 9.3 ppg.
About Bishop Guilfoyle: The Marauders are back in the PIAA postseason for the fourth time in five years after year hiatus. Their last trip ended in a first-round loss to Forbes Road in 2014. They also lost, as the D6 champion, to Smethport, the fourth-place team out of D9, in 2013 and fell as the third-place team out of D6 in 2012. Bishop Guilfoyle hasn’t won a PIAA playoff game since 2008 when it Saint Joseph (Natrona Heights) in the opening round … This year’s team lost to eventual D6 champion Homer-Center in the semifinals before beating Saltsburg, 66-55, in the consolation game to reach the PIAA playoffs … Josh Trybus leads the Marauders averaging 14.5 ppg while hitting 45 3-pointers. He is also 101 of 130 from the free-throw line on the year helping BG shoot 70 percent as a team from the line … Andrew Irwin chips in 8.0 ppg, Mark Conrad 7.7 ppg, Luke Frederick 7.1 ppg, Evan Chadbourn 6.9 ppg, Nick Scaramozzino 6.8 ppg and A.J. Labriola 5.2 ppg.
(9-3) Ridgway (23-4) vs. (6-1) Homer-Center (25-0)
When and where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 4, at Central Cambria High School
Winner gets: Sewickley Academy vs. McConnellsburg winner
About Ridgway: Three of the Elkers four losses this year have come to unbeaten D9 A champion Elk County Catholic with the other coming in double overtime in the D9 semifinals to Coudersport … Ridgway rebounded from the semifinal loss to beat Union in the consolation game to earn the fourth seed … After missing the PIAA postseason for the first time since 2011 last year, Ridgway is back in tournament and looking to continue the first-round success it enjoyed from 2012-2014 when it won a first-round game each year while making it to the semifinals in 2012 … This year’s addition of the Elkers is paced by 1,000-point career scorer Jeremy Breier, who averages 17.6 ppg … Breier’s younger brother, Andy, adds 9.3 ppg, but they are the only two players scoring at least six points per contest … Ridgway, which allows 31.2 ppg, played Homer-Center in the opening round of the 2013 PIAA playoffs winning 63-39.
About Homer-Center: The Wildcats beat Bishop Carroll for the D6 title and they do it with defense allowing just 35.7 ppg while limiting opponents to 30 or fewer points 12 times … Homer-Center has two players averaging in double digits led by 6-foot-3 senior guard/forward John Ireland, who averages 12.2 ppg and 3.8 rpg. Senior point guard John Capitosti adds 11.4 ppg and 3.7 rpg, while 6-7 senior center Ben Wolford chips in 9.4 ppg and 6.4 rpg while 6- senior Alex Arone contributes 9.8 ppg and 3.9 rpg.
(9-4) Union (17-9) vs. (7-1) Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (18-8)
When and where: 6 p.m. Friday, March 4, at Gateway High School
Winner gets: Bishop Carroll vs. Erie First Christian winner
About Union: The Golden Knights have lost two straight since upsetting defending D9 champion Clarion-Limestone in the quarterfinals and neither game has been all that close with Union falling 75-48 to Elk County Catholic in the semifinals and 60-43 to Ridgway in the consolation game. In fact, the Knights have dropped 3 of 4 losing all three by double digits after a 64-39 loss to C-L in the KSAC title game … Union is in the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 2011 and is looking for its first PIAA playoff win since 1974 when it beat Union City in the Class C semifinal game. The Golden Knights are 0-9 in PIAA postseason games since that semifinal win … 1,000-point scorer Cole Morris leds Union averaging 18.5 ppg. He is one of three Golden Knights in averaging in double digits. Fellow senior, Hank Murphy, chips in with 12.0 ppg while sophomore Lucas Bowser scores 14.0 ppg
About North Catholic: The Trojans won the WPIAL title, only their third in school history and their first in Class A, for the first time since taking home back-to-back Class AA titles in 2009 and 2010 … They upset top seed Monessen, 79-77, in overtime in the semifinals then beat second-seeded Sewickley Academy 50-36 in the title game … Last year, North Catholic lost 60-45 to C-L in the opening round of the PIAA tournament, but two years ago the Trojans beat Ridgway, 58-43, in the second round before losing in the quarterfinals in overtime to Bishop Carroll … Ken Fukon leads North Catholic averaging 15.8 ppg, and he had 13 in the WPIAL title-game win. Tristan Newcamp adds 14.4 ppg as does Erick Taylor, while Zach Offi chips in 13.5 ppg.
(9-1) Kane (14-10) vs. (6-3) Penns Valley (19-5)
When and where: 6 p.m. Saturday, March 5, at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym
Winner gets: West Branch vs. West Middlesex winner
About Kane: What a story the Wolves are. After going 3-19 last year and winning a total of 20 games over the last five seasons, they rebounded to win the D9 title with a 38-31 win over Brockway. It was Kane’s sixth straight win on the heels of a four-game losing streak that was part of a broader stretch that saw them lose 8 of 10 in midseason … The return of 6-6 junior forward Andrew Bucheit, who missed three of those games with an injury, has certainly helped. In five games since returning from the injury, Bucheit is averaging 24.0 ppg and 13.2 rpg. On the year, he averages 20.5 ppg, the only Kane player to score in double digits. Additional key players for the Wolves are Frank Truden (7.8 ppg), Davis Gardner (7.4 ppg), Chris Udovich (6.9 ppg) and Shane Rolick (5.1 ppg) … Kane is in the PIAA postseason for the first time since losing a play-in game to Jeannette in 2010. This is the Wolves first first-round PIAA Game since 2007 when it lost to Monessen in the opening round. Kane hasn’t won a PIAA playoff game since beating Farrell in a first-round game in 2001.
About Penns Valley: The Rams are in the PIAA playoffs for the second time in three years. In 2014, they lost a first-round game to Seton-La Salle … Penns Valley lost to West Branch in the District 6 semifinals before beating Tyrone, 50-33, in the consolation game to get to the PIAA playoffs … 6-foot-7 center Zach Engle as well as senior guards Logan Pearce and Ben Alexander led the way for the Rams, who play in the same conference, the Mountain League, as District 9 Class AAA champion, Clearfield. The Bison played two tight games against the Rams winning 58-49 Jan. 8 at Penns Valley and 44-37 Feb. 3 in Clearfield. Alexander had 16 points in the Feb. 3 game with Pearce scoring 11 and Engle eight. Alexander scored 17 and Pearce 19 in the consolation-game victory as well with Engle adding seven.
(9-2) Brockway (12-13) vs. (7-2) Lincoln Park (22-4)
When and where: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 5, at Gateway High School
Winner gets: Greenville vs. Washington winner
About Brockway: The Rovers hopes at a PIAA playoff berth seemed slim when they started the year 5-12. But they rolled off seven straight wins to get to the D9 title game before falling, 38-31, to Kane … Brockway is in the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 2013 and is looking for its first PIAA victory since beating New Brighton in 1997 … Jake Wineberg is the only Rover to average in double digits scoring 10.8 ppg. Carter Adams adds 8.9 ppg and Corey Carr 8.4 ppg.
About Lincoln Park: This is the Leopards second season at Class AA after being in Class A – they won the Class A title in 2014. Last season, they lost in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs to West Middlesex … Lincoln Park dropped a 49-45 decision to Aliquippa in the WPIAL title game. The Leopards other losses have come to D10 A champion Kennedy Catholic, Allderdice, considered one of the top Class AAAA team in the state, and New Castle … Lincoln Park is led by junior Nelly Cummings, who has already received a few Division I college offers. Cummings averages 23.8 ppg. Nick Aloi adds 18.2 ppg for the Leopards, who also feature 6-7 senior forward Dermotti Welling.
(9-1) Clearfield (23-2) vs. (7-3) Mars (19-6)
When and where: 7 p.m. Friday, March 4, at Clarion High School
Winner gets: Hampton vs. Erie Strong Vincent winner
About Clearfield: The Bison, who have won back-to-back D9 titles, are in the PIAA round of 32 for the first time since 2009 after beating Obama Academy out of District 8, 68-51, in a sub-regional game a week ago Thursday. Clearfield is looking for its first PIAA playoff win since 1989, when it beat Penn Hills, 63-51, for the only PIAA win in school history, in Class AAAA … In fact, Clearfield is trying to become the first District 9 Class AAA team to win a PIAA playoff game since Bradford beat Trinity in the first round in 2010 … Junior guard Will Myers leads Clearfield averaging 17.6 ppg. Myers is just eight points shy of becoming the first Bison to reach 1,000 career points since Matt McCorkle in 1997. He would be the eighth player in school history to hit the milestone … Also for Clearfield, Tommy Hazel adds 12.6 ppg, 6-7 senior Cody Spaid 11.2 ppg and Evan Brown 10.6 ppg.
About Mars: The Fightin’ Planets made it to the PIAA quarterfinals last year before falling to Erie Cathedral Prep despite being the fifth seed out of the WPIAL. They upset Somerset and Beaver Falls along the way. They also lost in the first round in 2013 and 2014 … This year, Mars lost in the WPIAL semifinals to eventual champion Beaver Falls, 59-58, breaking a four-game win streak. The Planets still finished the season winning 9 of 11 with the only other loss in that span to Class AAAA powerhouse Allderdice by nine. Two of Mars other four losses came in a tournament in Las Vegas against California teams … The Planets are pace by Robby Carmody and his 18.8 ppg, while John Castello adds 17.4 ppg and Christian Schmitt 16.4 ppg.