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CHECKING THE BOXES: With One Hurdle Complete, Top D9 Basketball Teams Shift Focus to Chasing District Crowns

CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — They have checked one box.

Now there’s a few more to go.

(Pictured above, members of the Redbank Valley girls basketball team celebrate the KSAC championship/photo by Owen Krepps)

The Karns City boys and Redbank Valley girls basketball teams have the same goals spelled out before them. They both accomplished one of them on Saturday with Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference championships.

But now the stakes are raised. Both the Gremlins and Bulldogs are going all-in.

“I said in the pregame huddle that we’re the best team in the KSAC,” said Karns City senior point guard Taite Beighley. But that’s all talk unless we can prove it. (Saturday) we proved that we were. At the start of the season we had two main goals: win the KSAC and win District 9. We checked one off; now we’re going for D9.”

“We have big plans,” said Redbank Valley junior point guard Mylee Harmon.

With the regular season now long in the rearview and the KSAC, Allegheny Mountain and Northern Tier championships decided, teams are now quickly shifting focus to the District 9 playoffs, which begin in earnest this week.

Karns City is the third seed in the deep Class 2A district bracket.

Redbank Valley is the top seed and Otto-Eldred is No. 2.

The Gremlins, though, have been battle tested in the KSAC, running a gauntlet during the regular season and the conference tournament.

“(Winning the KSAC) was something special,” said Karns City boys basketball coach Zach Kepple. “To be 9-2 (in the conference) and potentially being 8-3 and thinking we don’t know if we’re in, that’s crazy. The KSAC is very, very, very competitive this year, so I’m glad we ended up on top. The kids deserve it. They put in all the hard work.

“We said at the very beginning, the KSAC was our goal. The next goal was District 9,” Kepple added. “There’s a long road ahead of is and there are great teams in the district. We’ve played a lot of tough games down the stretch here and I think we’re ready to go.”

So are the Redbank Valley girls in Class 2A.

The Bulldogs get a bye straight into the final where they will face either familiar foe Moniteau or Coudersport.

The Warriors are the No. 2 seed and Coudy is the third seed. They square off on Tuesday at Brockway.

Meanwhile in Class 3A, the Karns City girls and Moniteau boys will play for D9 championships on Thursday at Tippin Gymnasium.

The Gremlins will play either No. 2 Brookville or No. 3 Kane at 6 p.m. at PennWest Clarion. The Raiders and Wolves play Tuesday to see who moves on to the title tilt.

The Moniteau boys will square off against Brookville for the boys Class 3A crown at 7:30 p.m. at Tippin.

In Class A girls, Elk County Catholic will take the first step toward doing something that is rarely done.

Win three state titles in the same school year.

In the fall, the Crusader girls cross country team took home a state championship. So, too, did the volleyball team. Now the basketball team will begin a march toward what they hope will be history.

ECC is the top seed in the nine-team Class A bracket. The Crusaders will play the winner of Tuesday’s Otto-Eldred vs. Austin game at home at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

They are coming off an AML title on Saturday — one step on what will be a long ladder to the ultimate goal.

“It kind of goes back to volleyball when we just focused on the next match in front of us,” said ECC senior Tori Newton, an all-state outside hitter for the volleyball team and a star forward. “We didn’t really have the idea of winning a state championship until it was a few games ahead. We’re taking the same mentality in basketball.

“It’s definitely one of our goals,” Newton said of winning a state title on the basketball court as well. “Our first goal was to win the AML, then the district and then states. We are really excited and really want to get there.”

Following are links to the complete brackets for the D9 boys and girls basketball tournaments, which begin this week:


Class A

Class 2A

Class 3A

Class 4A


Class A

Class 2A

Class 3A

Class 4A