The D9Sports Tournament of Champions is in full swing, and it’s time for the Boys’ West Region first round.
(Photo: 2012 Ridgway boys’ basketball team, which won the District 9 Class 1A championship)
The top four seeds include No. 1 2012 Ridgway, No. 2 2009 Elk County Catholic, No. 3 2004 Elk County Catholic, and No. 4 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 Round of 32.
BOYS’ WEST REGION FIRST ROUND
(17) 2014 Brookville vs. (1) 2012 Ridgway
The 2014 Brookville team advanced to the Round of 64 with a 54 percent to 46 percent win over 2009 Brockway. The Raiders finished 11-15 in 2014 and beat Redbank Valley, 52-37, to win the District 9 Class 2A title before losing in the first round of the PIAA playoffs. Brookville was a surprise champion upsetting the Bulldogs and were led by second-team All-District 9 selection Nate Shirts.
Ridgway finished 29-2 in 2012 beating rival Johnsonburg, 40-37, to win the District 9 title. The Elkers then embarked on the best PIAA run in school history knocking off Sewickley Academy, 48-40, Kennedy Catholic, 73-50, and Visonquest, 58-51, to reach the PIAA semifinals were it lost to Lincoln Park, 65-46. Head coach Tony Allegretto was named the D9Sports.com District 9 Coach of the Year, and the Elkers were paced by D9Sports.com Player of the Year Eric Matheson (18.4 ppg, 4.2 spg, 4.0 apg, 3.6 rpg) as well as third-team All-D9 choice Jordan Lundin (8.2 ppg). Matheson finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer with over 1,500 career points.
(9) 2020 Brookville vs. (8) 2001 Karns City
Brookville finished 2020 18-7 and beat Kane, 59-52, in the D9 Class 3A title game then defeated Chestnut Ridge, 46-32, in D5-9 subregional title game before topping Neshannock, 49-34, in the first round of the PIAA Tournament for its first PIAA victory since 1997 before falling to Lincoln Park in the second round. Brookville, coached by Dalton Park, was a strong defensive team that had a balanced offense paced by Jace Miner (11.9 ppg), Aaron Park (10.7 ppg) and Robert Keth (11.0 ppg).
Karns City went 24-4 in 2001 and beat Kane, 59-46, in the D9 Class 2A title game before topping Saegertown, 55-39, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs and losing to Windber in the second round. The Jeff Loughry-coached Gremlins were led by junior Patrick Craig (16.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg), a first-team All-District 9 selection who went on to score over 1,300 career sports, and Brian Hilderbrand (9.1 ppg, 9.0 apg, 4.0 spg), who was named second-team All-District 9.
(12) 2005 Punxsutawney vs. (5) 2004 Johnsonburg
Punxsutawney went 27-3 in 2005 and beat Clearfield, 60-41, in the D9 Class 3A title game before losing to Hopewell, 67-56, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs. The Bill Vasallo-coached Chucks were led by future MLB first-round draft pick, Devin Mesoraco, a sophomore, who averaged 13.7 ppg and was named third-team All-District 9.
Johnsonburg finished 26-5 in 2004 and lost to PIAA quarterfinalist Elk County Catholic, 69-52, in the D9 1A title game. The Rams, under the direction of Bill Thorwart, then went on a run in the PIAA playoffs beating West Middlesex, 66-44, District 6 champion Bishop Carroll, 47-37, and WPIAL runner-up Vincentian Academy, 58-37, to reach the PIAA semifinals before losing to Sewickley Academy, 45-36, in the semifinals. Johnsonburg was led by first-team All-District selection Dan Zeigler (15.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg) as well freshman Calvin Grumley (14.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.1 spg). Grumley finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in D9 history (now second) with 2,257 career points.
(13) 2017 Karns City vs. (4) 2015 Redbank Valley
Karns City went 17-8 in 2017 and beat Brookville, 56-51, to win the D9 3A title before falling to Erie First Christian in the first round of the PIAA playoffs. Head coach Chris Bellis was named the D9Sports.com District 9 Coach of the Year after guiding the Gremlins to their first title in 12 years. Karns City was led by third-team All-District 9 selection Ian McElroy (14.2 ppg).
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.
(14) 2011 St. Marys vs. (3) 2004 Elk County Catholic
St. Marys finished 2011 with a 17-8 record and topped Bradford, 49-37, to win the D9 Class 3A title before falling to New Castle, 80-54, in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs. The Mark Guido-coached Dutch had a tremendous turnaround season after going 2-18 in 2010 earning Guido the D9Sports.com District 9 Coach of the Year award and were led by third-team All-District 9 selection Justin Quiggle (12.4 ppg).
Aaron Straub-led 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.
(11) 2013 Bradford vs. (6) 2019 Elk County Catholic
Bradford went 11-13 in 2013 after starting the season 2-7 and beat Punxsutawney, 49-42, to win the D9 3A title before losing to Beaver, 60-46, in the PIAA playoffs. The Brian Hobbs-led Owls were paced by third-team All-D9 selection Mike Wilber (12.9 ppg).
ECC finished 27-2 in 2019 and won the D9 1A title with a 52-43 win over North Clarion before beating Leechburg, 65-41, in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs and losing to Vincentian Academy, 63-57, in the second round. The Aaron Straub-led Crusaders were paced by second-team All-District 9 selection Alex Breindel (13.0 ppg, 83 3-pointers) and third-team All-D9 selection Regis Wortman, a junior, who averaged 12.6 ppg and shot 56.1 percent from the field.
(10) 2009 Clearfield vs. (7) 2010 Bradford
Clearfield ended 2009 with a 22-3 record and beat St. Marys, 49-37, to win the D9 3A title before falling to Greensburg-Salem, 66-56, in the PIAA playoffs. The Forrest Campman coached-Bisons (this was before the S was taken off the name) were led by first-team All-D9 choice Matt Shiner (18.4 ppg, 49 3-pointers, 86.2 percent from the free-throw line) and second-team All-D9 choice Jarrin Campman (14.8 ppg, 45 3-pointers).
Bradford went 22-3 in 2010 and beat Clearfield, 56-28, to win the D9 Class 3A title then dispatched Trinity, 45-43, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs on a Mike White layup with 3.34 seconds to play before losing to West Mifflin, 63-42, in the second round. Dave “Pug” Fuhrman, the son of head coach Dave Fuhrman, was a second-team All-District 9 selection after averaging 16.0 ppg and hitting 74 3-pointers.
(15) 2020 Clearfield vs. (2) 2009 Elk County Catholic
Clearfield went 15-9 in 2020 and beat Bradford, 51-40, in the D9 4A title game before losing to Belle Vernon, 65-60, in the PIAA playoffs. The Nate Glunt-coached Bison were led by 1,000-point career scorer Cade Walker (17.0 ppg, 7.3 ppg) and junior Karson Rumsky (12.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg).
Aaron Straub’s 2009 ECC team went 23-8 and beat Johnsonburg, 47-36, to win the D9 1A title then topped Union (New Castle), 67-62 in overtime on a Nate Higgins offensive rebound and putback with 13 seconds left in regulation to force OT, Homer-Center, 59-56 in overtime, and Serra Catholic, 63-51, to reach the PIAA semifinals before losing to PIAA runner-up Kennedy Catholic, 58-44, in the semifinals. Straub was named the D9Sports.com District 9 Coach of the Year, while Nate Higgins (15.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg) was a first-team All-D9 selection and scored 1,050 points ina career that was split between St. Marys and ECC. Robby Wortman (10.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg) was a third-team All-D9 choice as well.