The D9Sports Tournament of Champions is into the Elite 8 now starting with the boys’ side in the East and West Regions.
(Photo: the 2002 Karns City team won the District 9 Class 2A title. Photo courtesy of Patrick Craig)
Advancing to the Elite Eight in the East were top-seeded 2006 Elk County Catholic and No. 3 2002 Karns City. From the West were third-seeded 2004 ECC and fourth-seeded 2015 Redbank Valley.
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 Final Four.
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(3-E) 2002 Karns City vs. (1-E) 2006 Elk County Catholic
2002 Karns City advanced to the Elite Eight with wins over No. 14 2008 Cranberry, 78 percent to 22 percent, No. 6 2016 ECC, 65 percent to 35 percent, and No. 7 2018 Coudersport, 54 percent to 46 percent.
2006 ECC, the lone PIAA champion during this era, beat No. 17 2016 Kane, 76 percent to 24 percent, No. 8 2002 Keystone, 55 percent to 45 percent, and No. 13 2018 Johnsonburg, 52 percent to 48 percent, to reach the Elite Eight.
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.
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.
(4-W) 2015 Redbank Valley vs. (3-W) 2004 Elk County Catholic
2015 Redbank Valley advanced to the Elite Eight with wins over No. 13 2013 Karns City, 73 percent to 27 percent, No. 5 2004 Johnsonburg, 51 percent to 49 percent, and top-seeded 2012 Ridgway, 54 percent to 46 percent.
2004 ECC beat No. 14 2011 St. Marys, 72 percent to 28 percent, No. 6 2019 ECC, 74 percent to 26 percent, and No. 2 2009 ECC, 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent in a matchup decided by two votes (231 to 229).
Redbank Valley went 22-7 in 2015 and won the school’s first District 9 title since 1980 when it beat Cranberry, 40-36, in the 2A title game. The Bulldogs, under the direction of Greg Bean, then dispatched Bellwood-Antis, 60-53, and West Branch, 62-46, to reach the PIAA quarterfinals for the first time in school history before losing to eventual PIAA runner-up Aliquippa, 70-36. Bean was named the D9Sports.com District 9 Coach of the Year, while Jake Dougherty (16.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.1 spg) was a first-team All-D9 selection and Devin Shumaker (11.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, 2.6 spg) and Zach Westover (9.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.8 bpg) were third-team All-District 9 choices.
Elk County Catholic went 27-3 in 2004 and beat PIAA semifinalist Johnsonburg, 69-52, to win the D9 1A title then topped Homer-Center, 65-40, and St. Joseph’s, 66-53, to reach the PIAA quarterfinals were it lost to eventual PIAA runner-up Sewickley Academy, 52-49, in a game ECC trailed by 10 with 1:36 to play. Freshman Jesse Bosnik led the Crusaders and was named a second-team All-District 9 selection after averaging 13.7 ppg. He would have bee the D9Sports.com Rookie of the Year, but the award didn’t exist until 2005. Bosnik went on to become the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,083 career points. Senior Doug Straub (11.7 ppg) was a third-team All-D9 selection.