With the play-in round complete, it’s time to start the D9Sports Tournament of Champions boys’ bracket in earnest with the “East Regionals”.
(Photo of 2006 ECC boys’ basketball team that won the PIAA Class 1A title. Photo courtesy of ECC)
The lone PIAA champion since 2001, the Elk County Catholic Crusaders are the top seed in the East with the 2017 ECC team as the No. 2 seed, the 2002 Karns City team as the No. 3 seed and the 2019 Ridgway team as the No. 4 seed.
Here is how this works. You have until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday to vote for which team you think is the best in each matchup. At that point, the winners will advance into the Round of 32.
BOYS’ EAST REGION FIRST ROUND
(17) 2016 Kane vs. (1) 2006 Elk County Catholic
Kane advanced to this round with an impressive play-in victory over Bradford, 75 percent to 25 percent.
The 2016 Wolves had a remarkable turnaround from the year before going 14-11 after finishing 3-19 in 2015 and won the D9 Class 2A title with a 38-31 win over Brockway. That earned head coach Matt Gasbarre D9Sports.com District 9 Coach of the Year honors, while Andrew Bucheit (19.9 ppg, 11.3 rpg) was named the D9Sports.com Player of the Year.
The 2006 ECC team finished a perfect 33-0 and beat Coudersport, 66-26, in the District 9 championship game before rolling through the PIAA playoffs with wins by 32 points, 24 points, 33 points, 15 points and finally by 10 points, 71-61, in the PIAA title game over Bishop Hannon at the Giant Center in Hershey.
The Crusaders were led by D9Sports.com District 9 Player of the Year Jesse Bosnik, a junior that season who went on to be the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,083 career points.
Bosnik was joined on the All-District team by third-team selections Kevin Genevro and Tony Lecker, both seniors, while fellow junior Josh Salter also played a key role in the title. Head coach Aaron Straub was named the D9Sports.com District 9 Coach of the Year.
(9) 2014 Ridgway vs. (8) 2002 Keystone
Ridgway finished 21-7 in 2014 and beat Elk County Catholic, 48-41, to win the D9 Class 1A title. The Elkers then advanced to the second round of the PIAA playoffs. Ridgway was led by first-team All-District 9 selection Jeremy Breier (17.4 ppg) while head coach Tony Allegretto was named the D9Sports.com District 9 Coach of the Year.
Keystone went 25-4 in 2002 beating Elk County Catholic, a PIAA quarterfinalist, 76-67, in the District 9 title game. The Greg Heath-coached Panthers were led by first-team All-District 9 selection Charlie Cotherman (17.8 ppg) and also featured future 2,000-point career scorer Garrett Heath, who was a sophomore, and current Cranberry head coach Pat Irwin. Keystone advanced to the second round of the PIAA Tournament.
(12) 2005 Karns City vs. (5) 2013 Smethport
Karns City went 19-8 in 2005 beating Port Allegany, 56-41, in the District 9 Class 2A title game before losing in the first round of the PIAA tournament in overtime to Union City. The Gremlins were led by D9Sports.com District 9 Player of the Year Tyler Callihan (25.3 ppg) and were coached by current KC girls’ coach Steve Andreassi.
Smethport was 24-4 in 2013, with three of the losses coming in the postseason, including twice in the District 9 playoffs. The Hubbers fell to Johnsonburg, 56-49, in the D9 1A semifinals and then lost to North Clarion, 64-56, in the consolation game before going on a dream run in the PIAA playoffs first beating District 6 champion Bishop Guilfoyle in the first round before dispatching WPIAL runner-up Clairton, who featured current Cincinnati Bengal Tyler Boyd and Aaron Mathews, who just finished playing football at Pitt, before again falling to Johnsonburg, 54-43, in the PIAA quarterfinals, a Rams team that finished second in the state. Dan Zeigler-coached Smethport was led by first-team All-District selection Zach Smith (22.6), who went on to star at Pitt-Bradford before walking on at NCAA Division I Pitt, and second-team selection Clay Schuler. Smith finished his career as the Hubbers’ all-time leading scorer.
(13) 2018 Johnsonburg vs. (4) 2019 Ridgway
Johnsonburg went 19-8 in 2018 upsetting Elk County Catholic in the D9 1A title game, 36-30, before losing in the first round of the PIAA playoffs. The Rams, coached by Bill Shuey, were led by future 1,000-point scorer Austin Green, only a sophomore, who averaged 11.2 ppg.
Ridgway finished 26-4 in 2019 and beat two-time defending champion Coudersport, 52-50, in the D9 2A title game on a Zach Zameroski layup with 4.4 seconds to play. The Elkers went on to beat Sewickley Academy in the first round of the PIAA playoffs and Wilmington in the second round before falling to WPIAL champion OLSH in the quarterfinals. Ridgway was led by second-team All-D9 selection Daunte Allegretto, who was a walk-on at Pitt-Johnstown this past season, as well as third-team choice Jake Reynolds. Head coach Tony Allegretto, Daunte’s dad, was named the D9Sports.com District 9 Coach of the Year.
(14) 2008 Cranberry vs. (3) 2002 Karns City
In 2008, Cranberry, coached by Eric O’Polka, went 17-11 and beat Kane, 55-48, in overtime to claim its only D9 title with Brad Rembold scoring seven of his 14 points in OT on his 18th birthday for the Berries. Chase Mitchell (12.7 ppg), Nick Persing (11.6 ppg) and Rembold (9.8 ppg) led a balanced offense for Cranberry, which lost in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs.
Karns City went 27-2 in 2002 and didn’t lose until February when it dropped a regular-season decision to Wilkinsburg. The Gremlins went on to beat Moniteau, 69-48, in the D9 2A title game after rolling past Ridgway, 86-38, in the semifinals before beating Maplewood and North Star in the first two rounds of the PIAA playoffs. The North Star game was a 47-46 overtime decision when future Redbank Valley head coach Patrick Craig hit a shot with eight seconds to play in overtime. Craig had also tied the game with three free throws with 18.8 seconds left in regulation after being fouled taking a 3-pointer. Karns City, coached by Jeff Loughry, fell in the PIAA quarterfinals to eventual PIAA runner-up Sto-Rox. The Gremlins were led by Craig (21.3 ppg, 11.5 rpg), a 1,000-point career scorer, and Brian Hilderbrand (10.2 ppg, 8.7 apg), who were both named first-team All-District players.
(11) 2003 Bradford vs. (6) 2016 Elk County Catholic
Bradford went 23-3 in 2003 and beat St. Marys, 71-40, in the D9 3A title game before losing to Sharon in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs. The Dave Fuhrman-coached Owls were led by first-team All-District 9 selection Jess Whalen (20.3 ppg), who scored over 1,300 career points, as well as second-team choice Jon Skvarka (14.5 ppg)
ECC finished 2016 28-1 with the lone loss coming in the second round of the PIAA playoffs, 61-38, to Farrell. The Aaron Straub-coached Crusaders were led by future 1,000-point scorer Nate DaCanal (13.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.2 apg), a second-team All-District selection, and third-team All-District choice Kyle Huff (10.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg).
(10) 2017 Clearfield vs. (7) 2018 Coudersport
Clearfield under the direction of Nate Glunt went 23-2 in 2017 beating Punxsutawney, 59-45, to win the D9 4A title. The Bison lost a two-point game, 48-46, to McGuffey in a game that saw Clearfield trail by 14 in the fourth quarter before rallying to tie the contest at 46 but losing on a late shot. A pair of 1,000-point career scorers led the Bison including first-team All-District 9 selection Tommy Hazel (18.8 ppg, 8.6 rpg) and second-team All-D9 choice Will Myers (17.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg), the school’s all-time leading scorer. Evan Brown also earned second-team All-D9 honors.
Coudersport won its second straight District 9 Class 2A title in 2018 beating Ridgway, 66-46, in the title game and then knocked off Wilmington in the first round of the PIAA Tournament before losing to eventual PIAA runner-up OLSH in the second round. The Brian Furman-coached Falcons were led by D9Sports.com District 9 Player of the Year, Owen Chambers (24.9 ppg), who went on to become the all-time leading scorer in D9 history with 2,239 career points. Jared Green (16.3 ppg), a 1,500-point career scorer, joined Chambers as a first-team All-District 9 selection, as Coudersport finished the year 23-4.
(15) 2019 Brookville vs, (2) 2017 Elk County Catholic
Brookville, under Dalton Park, went 16-9 in 2019 and beat Moniteau, 54-35, to win the Class 3A D9 title. The Raiders then beat Everett, 48-44, in the D5-9 Subregional title game before losing to Deer Lakes, 56-52, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs. Brookville was led by third-team All-District 9 choice Aaron Park (11.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg).
ECC finished 2017 with a 28-1 mark with the Crusaders’ only loss coming in the PIAA quarterfinals to eventual PIAA champion Kennedy Catholic, 61-40. ECC beat Johnsonburg, 62-44, to win the D9 title and then topped Eden Christian, 52-41, and Williamsburg, 76-48, in the PIAA playoffs to reach the quarterfinals. The Aaron Straub-coached Crusaders were led by 1,000-point scorer Nate DaCanal, who was named the D9Sports.com District 9 Player of the Year after averaging 15.3 ppg and 5.7 rpg. Gabe Kraus (14.8 ppg) was named a second-team All-District team player.