By Pete Sirianni
KANE, Pa. – 715 to 1.
That is the career wins record by the two coaches in Friday night’s Allegheny Mountain League showdown in Kane.
The first, much larger number belongs to Aaron Straub, who is in his 34th year of leading the Elk County Catholic program, a stretch which included winning the 2005 PIAA Class A boys title with a perfect 33-0 record.
The second, much smaller number belongs to Kane’s Matt Gasberre, who got his first career win Wednesday night at in a 56-38 victory at Sheffield in his third game as head coach.
Based on numbers alone, Straub has the upper hand, naturally.
But if anyone knows the Elk County system, it may just be Gasberre.
Gasberre, a 6th grade science teacher at the Kane Middle School, is a 2002 ECC graduate and was a rotation player on a district champion Crusader team that finished 29-1 with a trip to the state semifinals his junior year and a run to the third round of states his senior year.
Friday night in the Wolves’ Den, Gasberre has a chance to knock off his mentor in their first meeting, but more importantly could lead Kane to its first win over ECC since Jan. 19, 2009 and just its second win against the Crusaders since the 1999-2000 season.
“I respect the ECC program tremendously,” Gasberre said. “I am thankful for the positive experiences that the school, faculty and basketball coaching staff provided me throughout my high school career.”
Gasberre, who has spent the last five years leading Kane’s middle school program and serving as a varsity assistant coach, took over the Wolves program this year in place of former coach Brian Wymer. Wymer, coincidentally, is a Brockway graduate and went 3-7 in 10 games coaching against his former coach, in long-time Brockway coach Kurt Becker.
While the relationship between the two head coaches makes for a good storyline, the only thing the Wolves and Crusaders care about is which team will be ahead in the standings come Saturday.
Kane, having lost its home opener to Cameron County Friday and a road matchup Monday at Smethport, was able to get its first AML win of the year in the victory over Sheffield.
ECC lost its opener Tuesday at Johnsonburg 63-58.
To get its first win of the year, the Crusaders will lean upon 6-foot-5-inch center Cory Huff and Mitchell Struble. Huff scored 21 to pace ECC against the Rams, while Struble added 15.
Kane is led by senior swingman Jeff Kocjancic, who is coming off a 28-point performance at Sheffield. Kocjancic entered this season with 811points. Senior guard Kevin Cleer is also a potent offensive threat for the Wolves.
Though in the early season, a win for the Wolves would definitely be a statement by a team that is coming off a seven win season that followed years of two and one wins.
“We had a grueling opening set of games to start the season,” Gasberre said. “With four games in seven days, to have our final game of this stretch end on a positive note would really help us gain momentum as we head into the EQT Tournament over the holiday break.”