CLARION, Pa. – Johnsonburg turned the tables on their Elk County rival Elk County Catholic by winning the District 9 Class 1A title, 36-30, Saturday afternoon at Clarion University’s Tippin Gym.
(Photo by Jared Bakaysa of JB Graphics. See more of Bakaysa’s work here)
“It just feels great,” Johnsonburg head coach Bill Shuey said. “The kids have worked so hard all year, and they played their butts off today.”
With the game combining for 66 points, it throughout.
But it was Rams, who lost to ECC in last year’s title game, who took the lead late in the second quarter 21-20 on an Isaac Schloder jump shot with 2:39 remaining in the first half and never looked back having to hold off an ECC surge in the furious final minutes.
Johnsonburg took a 24-22 lead in the final quarter, and the Rams found themselves in front 29-26 following a Kasey Raubenstrauch free throw.
Logan Hoffman missed a game-tying three-pointer for ECC, and Brennen Klawuhn fouled Austin Green putting him at the line for the 1-and-1, which was missed.
Ryan Newton who led all scorers with 13, made 1 of 2 free throws pulling the Crusaders to within two at 29-27 with 2:19 to go.
Ben Freeburg was then fouled by Newton where he connected on 1 of 2 from the line putting the Rams ahead 30-27 at the 1:38 mark.
Newton then missed a potential game-tying trey forcing Leo Gregory to foul Tyler Singer, who made 1 of 2 pushing the Johnsonburg lead to two possessions at 31-27.
Raubenstrauch picked the pocket of Hoffman for an easy layup that all but wrapped up Johnsonburg’s district title at 33-27 with 50 seconds left.
“It could have gone either way,” Shuey, whose team is the D9 champ for the first time since making it to the PIAA Title game in 2013. “It was a really a well-played game on both sides. We just found a way to hit shots when it mattered the most.”
ECC head coach Aaron Straub, whose team beat Johnsonburg twice during the regular season, gave the Rams all the credit.
“I’ll keep it real simple, we got outcoached and we got outplayed,” Straub said. “I don’t think there is anything else that can be said. This outcome had everything to do with us not getting good shots. Johnsonburg played very well defensively, and that’s no surprise. But our shot selection was our problem.”
The game moved at a slow pace from the get-go as it was scoreless until the 4:17 mark of the first quarter when the Crusaders Hoffman hit 1 of 2 free throws followed by Newton’s 3-pointer at 3:15 for the game’s first field goal that gave the Crusaders the early 4-0.
“I felt our defense was good throughout,” Shuey said. “We really hustled out there and limited their second-chance opportunities.”
The Rams responded to the early ECC lead with a with a 9-0 run before Newton, who had a game-high 13 points, hit his second trey of the quarter.”
“We’ll regroup and get ourselves ready for the state tournament,” said Straub.
Trevor Lobaugh led the Rams with nine points.
Johnsonburg will face the sixth-place team out of the WPIAL, Eden Christian, while ECC will take on the District 10 runner-up, Jamestown, in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs. Both of those games will be Friday night at a site and time to be determined. Those sites and time will be announced Sunday.
“We’re going to relax and enjoy this one, then we’ll focus on states,” Shuey said.
JOHNSONBURG 36, ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 30
Score by Quarters
Johnsonburg 9 5 10 12 – 36
Elk C. Catholic 7 6 9 8 – 30
JOHNSONBURG – 36
Isaac Schloder 2 0-0 4, Kasey Raubenstrauch 3 2-5 8, Austin Green 2 2-3 7, Trevor Lobaugh 3 1-2 7, Tyler Singer 0 1-2 1, Ben Freeburg 1 5-8 7, Nick Bliss 1 0-0 2. Totals 12 11-20 36.
ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC – 30
Carter Lindemuth 0 0-0 0, Alec Wehler 1 0-0 3, Logan Hoffman 4 1-2 10, Ryan Newton 5 1-2 13, Brady Schneider 0 0-0 0, Alex Breindel 1 1-2 4, Brennen Klawuhn 0 0-0 0, Leo Gregory 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 3-6 30.
Three-Pointers: Johnsonburg 1 (Green). ECC 5 (Newton 2, Hoffman, Breindel, Wehler).