Connect with us


Off to ‘College’: Clarion Holds Off Pesky A-C Valley to Advance to KSAC Tournament at Clarion University

FOXBURG, Pa. (EYT/D9) — They lost 50 points of offense.

Basically the entire starting lineup from a team that won the District 9 championship last season. All-time program players out the door and on to the next stage of their lives.

This season, youth everywhere. A roster bursting with inexperience.

Yet the Clarion boys basketball team has found a way.

They certainly had to Wednesday night against a scrappy A-C Valley team that the Bobcats could never put away in a 56-50 win that handed them a spot in the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference Tournament.

“I’m very proud of how we played tonight,” said Clarion coach Scott Fox. “We talked about where we needed to be and we expected a dogfight when we got here. I told them, ‘You play four solid quarters tonight, give that for the entire four quarters, you’re gonna win the game and go to the university on Friday.’”

Clarion (13-9, 8-2) will take on Redbank Valley at 8 p.m. Friday at Clarion University in the KSAC boys semifinal.

To get there, the Bobcats had to beat A-C Valley (8-12, 3-6).

Early, it looked like Clarion would have no trouble dispatching the Falcons and earning their way to Tippin Gymnasium, leading 16-8 just four minutes into the game.

But A-C Valley closed to 18-17 just a few minutes later, setting the tone for how the game would play out: Clarion getting leads, A-C Valley coming back.

“After the shellacking we got up at Clarion earlier in the year — I mean a 49-point loss to (six) tonight … I’m proud of the guys,” said A-C Valley coach Anthony McGarvey. “It stinks to lose and I hate losing more than anything, but a bounce of a ball this way, it could have been a different story.”

The game was tied 33-33 at the half and A-C Valley took a brief 35-33 lead 30 seconds into the third quarter.

Clarion, though, went on a 7-0 run to lead by five and held the Falcons off the rest of the way.

Devon Lauer had the hot hand for the Bobcats. The sophomore point guard struck for 19 and hit five 3-pointers.

“We were waiting for him to hit more than a couple of shots a game because he’s got that nice shot,” Fox said. “Once he starts hitting, we’re good to go. He played a good overall game.

“He’s so calm,” Fox added. “He’ll take that shot whenever he can and he hit them tonight. That was good for him.”

Lauer said he felt like he was going to have a good night by the way he was shooting before the game.

“Whenever I’m making them in warmups, I have a good feeling,” Lauer said.

(Devon Lauer)

Lauer is one of the youthful players around seniors Christian Simko, Ryan Alston and Aiden Quinn. Only Simko saw significant time last season.

While some outside of Clarion figured it would be a rebuilding year, that was not the thinking in the Bobcat locker room.

“All we wanted to do was get to the college,” Lauer said of making the KSAC tourney at Clarion University. “We wanted to win the (KSAC Small School Division) championship, but we lost out on that. We bounced back and we’re going to the college now, so it feels good. We’ve been working for that all year,”

Dawson Smail added 14 points and Simko 10 for Clarion.

“This is great for these kids. It’s huge for them,” Fox said. “I mean, after we lost 50-some points per game and essentially five starters, it’s huge for them to step up, be able to be relied on without much experience last year. It’s gonna develop them for the future because they’re still sophomores. Sophomores and freshmen with their feet on the court. It’s great to get them tis and get some experience in these big games.”

Jay Clover scored 17 points, Brody Dittman 13 and Alex Preston added 11 for A-C Valley, which will close out the season Friday against Moniteau.