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MORE HARDWARE: Redbank Valley Wins Third Straight District 9 Title Behind 30 Points From Mylee Harmon

CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Mylee Harmon looked up toward the Tippin Gymnasium ceiling and mouthed, “Thank you,” at the fourth quarter media timeout.

Harmon was winded. She was spent. The junior point guard on the Redbank Valley girls basketball team had certainly put in a lot of work on that big PennWest Clarion floor during the District 9 Class 2A championship game on Saturday night.

“I was thankful for the media timeout,” Harmon said, smiling. “I needed that one.”

The Bulldogs needed Harmon, and she delivered one of her biggest performances of the season on the biggest stage so far.

Harmon scored 30 points, weaved her way all over the court with Moniteau players in pursuit to burn precious time off the clock in the waning moments of the game, and also saw the floor well with a handful of assists as Redbank Valley won the D9 title for the third consecutive year, outlasting the Warriors, 63-55.

This one was just as special to Bulldog players as the two that came before it, including a championship victory over Moniteau a year ago.

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“It was great because we’ve been looking forward to it since summer,” Harmon said. “It’s always one of our goals (to win the district championship). It’s not the end goal, but one of the last ones that we wanted to shoot for, so to get that as a team is really great.”

This game was a stark contrast to the regular-season meeting between the two teams.

That one was won by Redbank Valley, 39-36, on a half-court, buzzer-beater by Addy Bond, who scored 24 in that win.

Harmon fouled out with just four points in that game.

(Redbank Valley’s Mylee Harmon was named the Hager Paving Incorporated Player of the Game.)

The script looked eerily similar early as Harmon picked up two quick fouls and took an uncomfortable perch on the bench with just three points on her ledger.

It was a chance for Moniteau to make some headway. The Warriors couldn’t.

Other players emerged up for Redbank.

Like Bond. The sophomore slashed her way to the hoop for some key points.

Like Kira Bonanno. The junior was a force again inside and picked up the slack with one of the Bulldogs’ best players sitting instead of playing.

Bonanno finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

“I think my main role isn’t really to score,” Bonanno said. “It’s more to get rebounds and do the dirty work. … But I know I have to step up.”

The defense stepped up in a big way as well.

Moniteau senior guard Catherine Kelly came in as one of the most dangerous players in the district. She was coming off a 30-point game in the semifinal win against Coudersport. With fellow seniors Davina Pry and Kendall Sankey out for the season with ACL injuries, Kelly has elevated her game, especially down the stretch.

Redbank Valley handled her as well as a team can handle Kelly thanks to aggressive help defense.

Kelly still finished with 18 points, but her impact was reduced.

“We focused on that all week, trying to limit her touches,” said Redbank Valley coach Chris Edmonds. “I thought Addy Bond and Addy Hetrick and Mylee and all those guys did a very good job. And she still went off for 18. She’s a great player.”

Even with Kelly held to five points in the first half, Moniteau was within striking distance.

The Warriors trailed 15-12 midway through the second quarter, but the Bulldogs closed out the half strong to lead 29-18.

Redbank Valley was up by as many as 14 in the second half, but Moniteau didn’t go quietly. The Warriors again had an opportunity to make things interesting down by nine, but Kelly’s 3-point attempt rattled out with the Bulldogs up 53-44 midway through the fourth.

The game could have taken on a much different complexion had that shot gone in.

Instead, Redbank again extended its lead into double figures and, with the ball in Harmon’s hands, the Bulldogs closed it out.

“My girls, they didn’t quit,” said Moniteau coach Dee Arblaster. “We’ve had a lot of adversity this year and they just grinded hard every day. I thought we gave them a run for their money.”

Allie Pry added 16 points and Abbey Jewart scored 13 for the Warriors.

Arblaster said her team won’t dwell on this loss. Quite the contrary. There’s still work to be done. Moniteau has the state playoffs to look forward to.

“They knew this was going to be a tall task,” Arblaster said. “(Redbank) is a good team. If we would have beaten them, it would have been a big upset. They have three really good players. I think our girls are looking at the next thing up.”

The next thing up for Redbank Valley is what it hopes is a longer state playoff run.

Two years ago, the Bulldogs were upset in the first round of the PIAA Class 3A playoffs. Last year, they fell in the second round of the Class 2A postseason.

This year, they’d like nothing better than to go farther — much farther.

“We want to really make a statement,” Harmon said.

Bonanno said she felt the Bulldogs did that on Saturday night to snare another D9 title.

“It was a 10 out of 10,” she said. “It was one of our best games.”

It’s also been quite a run for Redbank, which has rolled off more than 50 straight wins against Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference opponents and now has even more hardware to add to the school trophy case with conference and district titles this season.

“These girls have worked hard for it,” Edmonds said. “They put a lot of time in the gym over the summertime. When the season starts, we really go at it. Very proud of them to put up three district championships in a row.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.