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CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEWS: Long Wait Over for C-L and Brockway Girls; Redbank Valley, ECC Trying to Take Home Two Titles

CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Kendall Dunn needed this break.

So did her teammates on the Clarion-Limestone girls basketball team.

(Above, Clarion-Limestone’s Kendall Dunn crashes over a Union player in a game this season/photo by Shelly Atzeni)

The Lions’ have had a seesaw type of season — plenty of ups, but also a fair share of downs.

C-L blitzed its way to a 9-2 start. A five-game losing streak at the end of January put a damper on that surge, but the Lions regrouped to win three of their last five to close out the regular season.

Clarion-Limestone (12-9) will square off against Brockway (15-7) at 6 p.m. Friday in the District 9 Class 2A championship game at Clarion University. Both teams will have been idle, save a lone scrimmage, for 17 days when they finally meet.

Dunn, though, thinks the long layoff has helped salve her team’s ails.

“I just feel like now, since we had that two-week break, we are all healthy and ready to go,” Dunn said. “We just had time to conserve our energy and get ready to get this win.

“We’ve had two or three games every week, and we had been sick and injured,” Dunn added. “We only have like 13 girls on our team, so being able to get that rest and get our strength back, I feel like we’re ready for this.”

The Lions have been ready for this for a long time.

The last time Clarion-Limestone appeared in a championship game was in 2014. It’s been a long climb back for the Lions, who battled through some very lean years in the not-so-distant past.

Dunn, a junior, and Frances Milliron, have been a big reason for the resurgence.

Milliron is averaging 15 points per game and Dunn is putting up around 13 per contest.

Dunn, though, said if the Lions bring a D9 title back to Strattanville, defense is what’s going to do it.

“We’ve been working a lot on our defense,” Dunn said. “That’s our key point. That’s how we win our game — defense wins championships. I feel like we have that.”

C-L better because Brockway has a formidable tandem as well.

Danielle Wood and Selena Buttery, both seniors, have had a season full of milestone.

(Brockway’s Selena Buttery, left, and Danielle Wood)

Wood surpassed 1,000 career points and also broke the school’s career assists record. Meanwhile, Buttery notched her 1,000th career point and her 1,000th career rebound — a rare double-double.

Wood is averaging 17.5 points per game while Buttery is at 16.8 points per outing.

Wood is also averaging five assists per game as the point guard while Buttery is pulling down 12.3 rebound and blocking a staggering 4.1 shots per game.

Buttery was recently named MaxPreps girls basketball player of the week.

“It meant a lot,” Buttery said. “I had no clue that it even happened. My athletic director told me and I was like, ‘Oh, I didn’t even know I was up for that.’ My little brother and everybody were so excited. They were online voting for me all the time, making sure I got it.”

It was a nice accolade for Buttery during the layoff, which was spent running — a lot.

But the idle time also helped Brockway, Buttery said.

“We were able to rest some of our ankle and knee injuries that we’ve been having,” she said. “Everyone feels a lot more healthier coming into this game tomorrow.”

Last year Brockway beat Clarion-Limestone is the Class 2A semifinals, 57-44, to advance to its first D9 title game.

“I think it’s gonna be a really good game to watch,” Buttery said. “It’s definitely a good matchup between us and C-L. We’re really excited and prepared to take them on tomorrow night.”

(This game will be live streamed by EYT Sports. Check or for links before game time.)

1 p.m. Saturday at Clarion University
(EYT Sports live stream game)

This is a true battle of Class 3A titans.

Punxsutawney’s record is a bit deceiving. The Chucks played a brutal non-league schedule, including a game against Class 6A playoff team Butler and Class 5A Armstrong to tip off the season.

The Chucks’ defense has been on a legendary streak. In their last six wins, they have given up 25 or fewer points.

Chloe Presloid leads Punxsutawney at 11.2 points per game. She scored 14 in a blowout win over Moniteau in the semifinals to help the Chucks reach the title game for the 10th consecutive year. Punxsy will be gunning for its eighth straight district title.

(Alivia Huffman/photo by Shelly Atzeni)

Redbank Valley is also on quite a roll. The Bulldogs have yet to lose this season to a District 9 opponent and have a bevy of offensive weapons.

Alivia Huffman — a do-everything junior — is averaging 13.5 points per game. She had been on a tear, scoring 26 in the semifinal win over Karns City and 21 in the KSAC title-game win over North Clarion.

Freshman Mylee Harmon (12.8) and senior Madison Foringer (11.0) are also averaging in double figures for Redbank Valley.

“It should be a good game,” said Punxsutawney coach Mike Carlson. “(Redbank Valley) can put up some points.”

2:30 p.m. Saturday at Clarion University

Elk County Catholic has yet to give up 20 points to a team in the playoffs. The Crusaders toppled Northern Potter, 45-19, and then smothered Ridgway, 37-16, to reach the Class A final.

That’s nothing new. In 16 of ECC’s wins this season, it has held the opponent to fewer than 30 points.

Otto-Eldred, though, has a potent offense led by Katie Sheeler, who surpassed 1,000 career points in the 60-53 win over North Clarion to reach the final.

Sheeler, Bri Heller and Anna Merry are quite the 1-2-3 punch for the Terrors — a test to the ECC defense.

Sheeler is averaging 18 points per game, Heller 8.4 and Merry 8.1.

Syd Alexander leads ECC at nearly 11 points per game.

REDBANK VALLEY (22-3) vs. RIDGWAY (19-5)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Clarion University
(EYT Sports live stream game)

Redbank Valley had to shake off the rust against feisty rival Keystone in the Class 2A semifinals before pulling away late to a 10-point win.

It all starts with the “Big Three” for Redbank Valley — seniors Bryson Bain, Marquese Gardlock and Chris Marshall. The trio is averaging a combined 40 points per game for the Bulldogs.

(Chris Marshall goes up for a layup/photo by Madison McFarland)

Redbank Valley hasn’t lost a game since Dec. 28, 2021. That’s a streak of 17 straight.

Ridgway is back in the final after losing to Karns City in the semifinals last year. The Elkers avenged that defeat last year by beating the Gremlins in the semifinals this season.

Dan Park leads the way for Ridgway at 15 points per game.

5 p.m. Saturday at Clarion University

The two teams split their meetings this season with DCC winning, 46-41, on Jan. 7 and ECC turning the tables with a 52-37 triumph Feb. 17.

Alec Srock has been hard for any team to contain this season for DuBois Central Catholic. He’s averaging nearly 20 points per game.

Luke Jansen, who had a big night in the dismantling of North Clarion in the semifinal with 16 points, is ECC’s leading scorer.

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