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Redbank Valley Survives Fourth-Quarter Keystone Run to Advance to D9 Class 2A Boys Title Game

DuBOIS, Pa. (EYT/D9) — As Bryson Bain walked into the DuBois High School gym following a hard-fought victory, the senior on the Redbank Valley boys basketball team was mobbed by his three little cousins.

“Hey, you rugrats,” Bain said as he smiled and leaned down to give the three little boys a hug.

They tugged at his legs and at his Hager Paving Incorporated Player of the Game t-shirt after Bain scored 15 points, no three bigger than a 3-pointer that sunk a dagger into Keystone’s collective hearts in the fourth quarter on the way to a 42-32 win in the District 9 Class 2A semifinals Tuesday night.

A victory is a victory and the Bulldogs will certainly take it, even though it was rarely pretty and always a grind to put away a Panther team that played like they had nothing to lose.

“That first half — we were having trouble just catching the ball,” Bain said, shaking his head. “We were turning the ball over and just doing stuff that isn’t ordinary for us. Once we got into halftime and were still up, we knew if we played anything close to our game in the second half, we’d be able to pull away.”

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

Redbank Valley did. It just took awhile.

The Bulldogs led 20-15 at the half and grew that advantage to 28-17 late in the third quarter.

Keystone, though, made its move with a wild 11-0 run to tie the game at 28-28 with five minutes remaining the the fourth quarter.

The Panthers took advantage of a bevy of turnovers and missed shots by Redbank during their run to draw even.

Bulldogs’ coach Emmanuel Marshall called a timeout after Tyler Albright knotted the score with a putback.

He had a simple and stark message.

“I told them, ‘You know, they’re scratching and clawing and they have nothing to lose,’” Marshall said. “‘It seems right now they want it more than you do, so you better want it.’”

Marshall’s team listened.

Out of the timeout, Redbank Valley quickly regained the lead on a basket by Chris Marshall.

The next time down the floor, Bain drained a 3-pointer to push the lead right back to five and give the Bulldogs time to exhale — and regain all the momentum.

By the time the onslaught was over, Redbank had put up its own 11-0 run to seal the victory.

Coach Marshall said the bye hurt his team. The Bulldogs were able to scrimmage against Farrell last week, but they hadn’t played since the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference championship game 10 days ago.

“Not playing and sitting around idle … it’s tough with this type of team not playing all the time,” the coach said. “Terrible shooting. It wasn’t pretty at all. Turnovers everywhere. But now that we’re back in motion, I think we’ll be able to perform a little better.”

Redbank Valley (22-3), which has won 17 straight games dating back to Dec. 28, 2021, will face Ridgway in the Class 2A district championship game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Clarion University.

The Bulldogs have been battling injuries. Bain was gimpy after tweaking his leg in the first half. Chris Marshall spent some time on the bench getting an ankle taped. Cam Wagner, a key reserve, has battled a shoulder injury and Owen Clouse missed a few games recently due to injury.

Bain, though, said they’ll all be ready to go at Tippin Gymnasium against Ridgway Friday night.

“We got to where we want to be and now we’re in the (championship game),” Bain said. “I think we can push through for a couple more games.”

For Keystone (12-12), the season was still something of a triumph.

The Panthers started 2-6 and were struggling mightily on offense, but turned things around quickly by winning six in a row to get back into the playoff hunt.

“They really did improve a lot,” said Keystone coach Greg Heath. “I’m extremely proud of them for that. You know, we got the kind of game that we needed to get tonight. That’s the type of game we needed to have to have a chance. If we could have just made a few more plays on the offensive end and made a few less turnover, maybe it could have been different.”

Bret Wingard led Keystone with 16 points.

“Every time he touches the ball, he’s just surrounded,” Heath said. “That’s where you want other guys to step up and make some plays to take some of the heat off of him. We didn’t do that consistently enough.”

Redbank’s defense had a lot to do with that. The Bulldogs jumped into passing lanes and disrupted Keystone’s offense all night.

Good thing, too, as the defense helped keep Redbank Valley afloat while the offense was getting back its mojo.

“That’s been our defense all year — any time we’re having trouble shooting the ball or getting into rhythm, our defense keeps us in games and wins us games sometimes, too,” Bain said. “This one, for sure.”

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

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