ALTOONA, Pa. – Berlin Brothersvalley used a 21-0 first and second-quarter run to take control of the contest, ending Clarion’s playoff run with a 78-52 win.
The Mountaineers quickly raced out to a 10-point lead and looked to be pulling away from Clarion, but the Bobcats swiftly fought back to cut the lead to one. The Bobcats would get no closer, as Berlin Brothersvalley went on a 21-0 run to open up the game. Despite Clarion finding more offensive success in the second half, Berlin Brothersvalley fended off the Bobcats’ comeback attempts and preserved their healthy lead until the finish.
Elijah Sechler topped Berlin Brothersvalley with 24 points. Pace Prosser added 19 points on five threes, and Abe Countryman put in a dominant shift down low, scoring 12 points to go with a huge defensive performance. Cal German led Clarion with 20 points in the loss.
The Mountaineers took a fast 6-0 lead, using their height advantage and strong full-court press to assert themselves early. Berlin Brothersvalley kept up their pace to grow the lead to 10, but Clarion battled back, scoring three straight baskets to cut the deficit to three points. The Bobcats defense was key in their comeback, as they forced Berlin Brothersvalley to settle for poorly-advised long-range threes. A pair of free-throws cut the lead to one, but the Mountaineers splashed two open threes at the end of the quarter to end the period up 22-15.
Berlin Brothersvalley started the second half with dominance, starting the period with an 8-0 run to expand their lead to 15. Clarion’s offense struggled to deal with the Mountaineers’ heavy defensive pressure in the second quarter, with the Bobcats struggling to create good shots and surrendering turnovers. Sechler was red hot in the period, scoring eight consecutive points early in the quarter. Berlin continued to flex their muscles throughout the rest of the period, with Countryman finishing strong down low to increase the Mountaineers’ lead to 40-20 at the half.
The action was more balanced to begin the third quarter, with both teams using their quickness to convert near the rim. The quick pace and balanced output continued as the quarter wore on, with the Mountaineers fending off the comeback by keeping up with Clarion. The Bobcats had the better of the back end of the period, with Verdill completing a tough three-point play on a driving layup. Despite the late success, Clarion still trailed 52-36 heading into the final quarter.
The theme remained the same in the final stanza, with Berlin Brothersvalley continuing to match Clarion’s increased offensive output. Sechler and Prosser kept driving the Mountaineer offense, lighting it up from beyond the arc to slowly expand their lead. Mountaineers took their foot off the gas pedal late in the period, reducing their pace to cruise to the win. Ezra Brooks knocked down a late jumper for Clarion’s final points of the evening, as Berlin Brothersvalley advanced to the PIAA Title Game with a 78-52 win.