The D9Sports Tournament of Champions heads into the second round, and it’s time for the Boys’ East Region.
(ECC went 28-1 and won the D9 Class 1A title in 2017. Photo by Paul Burdick. Check out more of Burdick’s work here)
Advancing to the second round in the East were top-seeded 2006 Elk County Catholic, No. 2 2017 ECC, No. 3 2002 Karns City, No. 5 2013 Smethport, No. 6 2016 ECC, No. 7 2018 Coudersport, No. 8 2002 Keystone, and No. 13 2018 Johnsonburg.
Here is how this works. You have until 11:59 p.m. Friday to vote for which team you think is the best in each matchup. At that point, the winners will advance into the Round of 16.
(8) 2002 Keystone vs. (1) 2006 Elk County Catholic
2002 Keystone advanced to the second round with a 59 percent to 41 percent win over ninth-seeded 2014 Ridgway, while 2006 ECC rolled past No. 17 seed 2016 Kane, 74 percent to 26 percent.
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.
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.
(13) 2018 Johnsonburg vs. (5) 2013 Smethport
2018 Johnsonburg upset 2019 Ridgway, the fourth seed, in convincing fashion, 57 percent to 43 percent, while 2013 Smethport had no trouble against No. 12 2005 Karns City winning 73 percent to 27 percent.
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.
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.
(6) 2016 Elk County Catholic vs. (3) 2002 Karns City
2016 ECC got past No. 11 2002 Bradford, 60 percent to 40 percent, while 2002 Karns City knocked off No. 14 2008 Cranberry, 78 percent to 22 percent.
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).
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.
(7) 2018 Coudersport vs. (2) 2017 Elk County Catholic
2018 Coudersport beat No. 10 2017 Clearfield, 70 percent to 30 percent, while 2017 ECC rolled past No. 15 2019 Brookville, 71 percent to 29 percent.
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.
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.