It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again for Elk County Catholic and Kennedy Catholic

Posted on Mar 17 2017 - 7:13pm by D9Sports

CLARION, Pa. – Elk County Catholic vs. Kennedy Catholic. Kennedy Catholic vs. Elk County Catholic. Crusaders vs. Golden Eagles. Golden Eagles vs. Crusaders. Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.

(Cover photo of ECC’s Ryan Newton. Photo by Paul Burdick. Check out more of Burdick’s work here)

If it feels like we’ve done this before, it’s because we have.

For the fifth time in the last 17 years, Elk County Catholic and Kennedy Catholic meet up in the quarterfinals or later of the PIAA Class 1A playoffs at Tippin when the two get together for an 8 p.m. quarterfinal showdown Saturday at the old, storied building.

ECC, which is 1-3 vs. Kennedy Catholic since 2001 and 1-4 in PIAA play against the Golden Eagles with the lone win, 67-34, coming in 2006, the year the Crusaders won the PIAA title.

Speaking of PIAA titles, Kennedy Catholic is the defending Class 1A champion, the seventh time Kennedy has won a state title and the first time since 2009 – the Golden Eagles also won titles in 1986, 1987, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 and finished second in 1990, 2002, 2005 and 2009.

The teams enter Saturday’s showdown with a combined record of 51-2 this season with ECC carrying an unbeaten 28-0 mark into the game and Kennedy Catholic a 23-2 record with the Golden Eagle losses coming to Paul VI out of Virginia and Greater Latrobe, a Class 6A team that finished sixth in the WPIAL.

As usual, Kennedy Catholic’s roster is dotted with transfers, including leading scorer Drew Magestro, a 1,000-point scorer who started his high school career at Sharon.

Magestro averages 20.7 ppg, while Maceo Austin chips in 19.5 ppg.

A pair of international transfers are next in scoring with Polish star Marcin Wiszomirsky, a 6-foot-7 senior in his first year at Kennedy, averaging 10.7 ppg and Mohamed Konate, from the African country of Mali, adding 10.1 ppg.

Clay O’Dell (7.7 ppg) and Channing Phillips (7.0 ppg) also play key roles for the Golden Eagles, who Otto-Eldred, 87-35, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs and Juniata Valley, 88-45, in the second round.

ECC, which has taken the more traditional route with players that have come up through its famed “Little Dribblers” program leading the way.

Senior Nate DaCanal, a three-year starter, paced the Crusaders at 15.3 ppg and has scored 1,192 career points. He is four points shy of tying Doug Bosnik (1971-74) for fourth all-time in school history in scoring, and he is one of just six ECC players to have at least two 400-point seasons.

Fellow senior Gabe Kraus, who has 753 career points in just two varsity seasons, is adding 14.9 ppg and is coming off a 24-point output in a 76-48 win over Williamsburg in the second round of the PIAA tournament Thursday.

Junior Ryan Newton chips in 11.0 ppg, while additional three players – Dan Stauffer (5.8 ppg), Brad Dippold (5.6 ppg) and Logan Hoffman (5.2 ppg) – also play key roles.

ECC, which is 56-1 over the last two seasons and 82-4 over the past three, knocked off Eden Christian, 52-41, in the opening round and are back in the quarterfinals for the first time since losing to Kennedy Catholic, 58-44, in 2009.

The winner will take on the winner of the game between WPIAL champion Monessen and District 6 champion Saltsburg in the semifinals Monday at a site and time to be determined.

Here is a quick look back at the ECC vs. Kennedy Catholic playoff games since 2001.

2001: KENNEDY CHRISTIAN 64, ELK COUNTY CHRISTIAN 48

In a quarterfinal game at Tippin Gym, the three-time defending champion Golden Eagles, on their way to a fourth straight state title, led 10-0 out of the gate and 31-14 at halftime.

“In essence that was the game,” ECC coach Aaron Straub told D9Sports.com after the game about his team’s cold start. “You can’t have a poor start against a very good team. We came out and in the third quarter and played well. We were not able to make up the difference.”

ECC did cut the Kennedy lead to nine, 31-22, with an 8-0 run in the third quarter that saw A.J. Straub hit a pair of 3-pointer and Tony Posteraro also score but never got any closer.

A.J. Straub had 29 points, including six 3-pointer, for ECC.

Dan McElhiney led the way for Kennedy Christian with 16 points, Gary Saterwhite added 14 points, Keenan Christiansen 11 and future major league baseball player Nolan Reimold 10.

The loss was ECC’s first of the season leaving the Crusaders with a 29-1 record, while Kennedy Christian improved.

BOX SCORE:

KENNEDY CHRISTIAN 64, ELK COUNTY CHRISTIAN 48

Score by Quarters

KC 16 15 15 18 64
ECC 5 9 18 16 48

Kennedy Christian – 64

Dan McElhiney 6 0-1 16, Nick George 0 5-6 5, Sean Christiansen 2 0-0 5, Nolan Reimold 5 0-0 10, Keenan Christiansen 4 2-3 11, Phil Doyle 1 1-1 3, Gary Saterwhite 7 0-0 14. Totals: 25 8-11 64.

Elk County Christian – 48

A.J. Straub 10 3-4 29, Pat Spence 2 0-0 5, Tony Posteraro 1 2-2 4, Eric Wilson 3 0-1 6, Jason Hanes 2 0-2 4. Totals: 18 5-9 48.
Three-pointers: Kennedy Christian 6 (McElhiney 4, K. Christiansen 1, S. Christiansen 1). Elk County Christian 6 (Straub 6).

2005: KENNEDY CATHOLIC 51, ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 48

It was another quarterfinal showdown at Tippin Gym, and free throws were the difference in a close game.

Kennedy Catholic hit 20 of 23 charity shots compared to 4 of 9 for ECC.

Despite that, the Crusaders led through until David Jackson’s charity shots with 2:14 left put the Golden Eagles in front, 45-44.

Jesse Bosnik answered with a pair of free throws on the other end to put ECC back ahead 46-34, but Shamus Reimold’s jumper from the foul line with 1:36 left put the Golden Eagles up for good, 47-46.

Bosnik had a chance to tie the game just before the buzzer but air balled a 3-pointer.

ECC had a pair of eight-point leads in the game – 26-18 at halftime and 31-23 with 5:30 left in the third quarter – and still led by six, 37-31, going to fourth quarter before being outscored 20-11 in the fourth.

Blair Rozenblad paced Kennedy with 16 points and eight rebounds. Jackson added 13 points and eight rebounds and Brandon Mirizio scored 11 points.

Adam Simbeck paced ECC with 19 points, including 12 in the first half. Tony Lecker added 12 points and Bosnik had 10 but only shot 3 of 14 from the floor.

The loss left ECC with a 27-3 record, while Kennedy, which ended up finishing second in the state, improved to 24-5.

KENNEDY CATHOLIC 51, ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 48

Score by Quarters

ECC 13 13 11 11 — 48
KC 10 8 13 20 — 51

Kennedy Catholic – 51

Brandon Mirizio 3-6 5-6 11, Blair Rozenblad 5-10 6-8 16, David Jackson 2-4 9-9 13, Jason Lane 1-1 0-0 2, Shawn Reimold 3-5 0-0 7, Patrick Mastrian 1-3 0-0 2, Nick Heckathorn 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-29 20-23 51.

Elk County Catholic – 48

Jesse Bosnik 3-14 3-4 10, Marcus Genevro 3-7 0-2 7, Brian Straub 0-2 0-0 0, Mike Prechtl 0-0 0-0 0, Adam Simbeck 8-11 1-1 19, Kyle Mahoney 0-1 0-0 0, Tony Lecker 6-10 0-0 12, Nick Bojalad 0-0 0-0 0, Brad Meholic 0-0 0-0 0, Dan Scutella 0-0 0-0 0, Kevin Genevro 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 20-46 4-9 51.

Three-pointers: Elk County Catholic 3-12 (Simbeck 2-3, M. Genevro 1-1, Bosnik 1-6, Mahoney 0-1, K. Genevro 0-1), Kennedy Catholic 1-5 (Reimold 1-2, Mirizio 0-1, Rozenblad 0-1, Mastrian 0-1).

2006: ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 67, KENNEDY CATHOLIC 34

History did not repeat itself a year later, as ECC rolled past Kennedy Catholic in the quarterfinals at Tippin Gym to improve to 31-0 on the year on its way to the school’s first and only PIAA title.

“We never even brought it (recent history) up,” ECC head coach Aaron Straub told D9Sports.com after the game. “We looked at this as another game. We never talked about what round it was or what we have done in the past. It was another opportunity to play and get better. Tonight we beat a good team that had a lot of momentum and came in playing very well.”

ECC shot a ridiculous 61.4 percent (27 of 44) for the game including an unbelievable 71.4 percent (15 of 21) in the second half while also forcing 22 Golden Eagles turnovers while turning the ball over just eight times itself.

Josh Salter came off the bench to score 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting with a pair of 3-pointer for the Crusaders, who also got 15 points, seven assists and three steals from Jesse Bosnik, who put his poor shooting performance from the year before behind him by going 6 of 12 from the floor.

ECC held David Jackson, a Penn State recruit, to 18 points, including only 10 after the game’s first 3:15.

The Crusaders used spurts of 9-0 and 4-0 in the second quarter to take a 29-20 halftime lead after Kennedy Catholic grabbed its only lead of the game, 12-11, at the start of the second quarter.

With ECC lead by 11, 36-25, with 6:02 left in the third quarter the Crusaders put the game away with a 16-2 run and got the lead up to 32, 61-29, in the fourth.

Tony Lecker added 11 points and five rebounds for ECC, while Jackson was the lone Kennedy Catholic player in double digits.

ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 67, KENNEDY CATHOLIC 34

Score by Quarters

Kennedy Catholic 10 10 7 7 – 34
Elk County Catholic 11 18 23 15 – 67

KENNEDY CATHOLIC – 34

Eric Rodemoyer 2-3 0-0 4, Kyle Randall 2-4 0-0 4, Nick Heckathorn 0-0 0-0 0, David Jackson 5-9 8-11 17, Patrick Mastrian 1-1 0-0 2, Bryan Frankovich 0-0 0-0 0, Chris Pasci 1-4 0-0 2, Mike Ponzurick 0-0 0-0 0, Phil Kaikis 0-0 0-0 0, Mike Klaric 0-0 0-0 0, Tom Myers 0-0 0-0 0, Dallas Hartman 0-1 0-0 0, Jake Yatsko 0-1 0-0 0, Darrel Spencer 1-6 0-2 2, Brad Evans 1-1 0-1 2. Totals 13-30 8-14 34.

ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC – 67

Kevin Genevro 1-2 1-1 3, Jesse Bosnik 6-12 3-3 15, Dan Scutella 3-3 0-0 8, Kyle Mahoney 4-4 0-0 8, Tony Lecker 4-5 3-4 11, Brad Meholic 1-4 0-0 2, Andy Olson 0-0 0-0 0, Jimmy Higgins 0-1 0-0 0, Ray Jablonski 0-0 0-0 0, Josh Salter 7-11 1-1 17, Matt Fritz 0-0 0-0 0, JD Deutch 1-1 1-3 3, Kiel Nissel 0-1 0-0 0, EJ Crowe 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-44 9-12 67.

Three-pointers: Kennedy Catholic 0-2 (Jackson 0-1, Spencer 0-1). ECC 4-11 (Scutella 2-2, Salter 2-4, Bosnik 0-3, Genevro 0-1, Meholic 0-1)

2009: KENNEDY CATHOLIC 58, ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 44

A dream run of sorts for Elk County Catholic ran out in the PIAA semifinals against Kennedy Catholic.

Unlike three years earlier, no one expected ECC to even get this far, so a loss to the soon-to-be state runner-ups wasn’t unexpected.

“They out toughed us tonight,” ECC head coach Aaron Straub told D9Sports.com. “They were better than we were. They were stronger. They guarded the ball better.”

The Golden Eagles, who improved to 26-2 with the win, used runs of 11-1 in the second quarter and 14-5 in the third quarter to build a 13-point lead, 42-39, after three.

Kyle Randall exploded for 29 points, four assists and three rebounds, while Audra Jones added 16 points and 10 rebounds.

ECC, which shot 15 of 38 for the game including 7 of 22 in the second half, got 19 points from Robby Wortman and eight from Nate Higgins.

ECC finished the year 23-8. Kennedy Catholic lost to Girard College in the PIAA title game in State College.

KENNEDY CATHOLIC 58, ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 44

Score by Quarters

Elk Co. Catholic 14 5 10 15 – 44
Kennedy Catholic 11 13 18 16 – 58

Elk County Catholic – 44

Matt Bauer 2 2-2 6, Tyler Herzing 1 0-0 2, Joe Jacob 2 0-0 5, Robby Wortman 7 4-7 19, Nate Higgins 2 4-7 8, Tony Chiodo 1 2-3 4, David Rupprecht 0 0-0 0, Adam Buchheit 0 0-0 0, Tyler Healy 0 0-2 0, Michael Wachter 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 12-21 44.

Kennedy Catholic – 58

Philip Kaikis 1 0-0 2, Kyle Randall 10 7-10 29, Jake Penn 0 0-0 0, Michael Klaric 1 4-8 7, Audra Jones 6 4-5 16, Jesse Hardin 0 0-0 0, Jake Yatsko 1 1-2 4, Dante Vetica 0 0-0 0, Jimmy Hawley 0 0-0 0, Kenny Fill 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 16-25 58.

Three-pointers: ECC 2 (Jacob, Wortman). Kennedy Catholic 4 (Randall 2, Klaric, Yatsko).