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By Chris Rossetti
Friday night was a busy night around District 9 with 26 games (15 boys, 11 girls) featuring 52 District 9 teams.
Some of the highlights:
- The top-ranked team in the Laurel Eye Clinic District 9 basketball rankings, Johnsonburg, outscored sixth-ranked Ridgway 25-9 over the final 12:45 to take a 1-point, 29-28, lead and turn it into a 54-37, much-closer-than it appears, final score. The Elkers were actually still within eight, 42-34, with just under five minutes to play. Cameron Grumley and Cole Peterson each scored 18 for Johnsonburg with Jeremy Brier scoring 18 to lead Ridgway.
- Moniteau’s defense stopped Cranberry’s Emily Merryman and beat the Berries 50-30. Merryman, who entered the game averaging a District 9-leading 29.7 ppg, was held to a career-low seven points (just the second time in her career she has been held to seven points and the first time since her freshman season). It was the first time in 40 games Merryman has failed to reach double digits and amazingly just the eighth time in 90 career games she hasn’t scored at least 10 points. She had scored at least 20 in every game this season.
- In a battle for first place in the North Tier Boys’ League, Cameron County held off Coudersport for a 52-48 win in a game featuring a pair of teams who entered action with unbeaten 7-0 conference records. The Red Raiders, ranked fifth in the Laurel Eye Clinic rankings, trailed 22-20 at halftime but outscored the Falcons 18-11 in the third quarter behind eight points from Dylan Clingan, who had 10. Cameron then used solid free-throw shooting down the stretch from Keith Spehalski (6 of 7) to seal the victory. Nate Sestina had a game-high 20 points for Cameron County with Darren Keglovitz leading Coudersport with 13 points.
- Ali Rinfrette and Liz Coppella each scored 11 points to help Bradford fend off a strong fight from visiting Punxsutawney and get a 38-33 D9 League victory for the Lady Owls, who are ranked second in the Laurel Eye Clinic rankings.
- Jeff Kocjancic became the eighth player in Kane boys’ basketball history to score 1,000 career points when he netted 18 in a 56-46 win over Brockway. Kocjancic now has 1,015 career points and is the first Wolves player to go over 1,000 since John Bizzak in 2008.
- Brendan Miller’s under-and-up move with just over 2 minutes to play, broke a 50-all tie and helped Clarion to a 60-55 win over visiting Karns City. The Bobcats led by 11, 31-20, at halftime before Karns City tied the game at 50 on a Tyler Kepple three with 2:30 to play. But Miller, who had 10 points, scored the next four to right the ship for Clarion. Antonio Troese led the Bobcats with 22 points, while David Olszak paced Karns City with 15 including eight at the start of the third quarter helping the Gremlins back in the game.
- Hayle DaCanal scored a game-high 12 points to lead Elk County Catholic’s girls’ team to a 40-26 win over visiting Brookville in D9 League action. Hali Olson paced Brookville with 11 tallies.
- Kiana Hoohuli’s 13 points were enough to help St. Marys’ girls squeeze past Clearfield 36-32.
- In the boys’ game between St. Marys and Clearfield, Ryan Miller netted 12 points to lead the Dutch to a 51-41 win.
- Brooke Hinderliter scored 16 points to lead Redbank Valley’s girls to a 45-40 win over visiting Clarion-Limestone. Abby Mellott had 14 for the Lady Lions.
- Tre Garzel and Jordan Seefeldt each had 15 points for the Port Allegany boys in a 61-32 win over Austin, which got 12 points from Kade Logue
- Brandon Mancuso had 19 points, Tyler Young and Cory Greer 10 each and Michael Klingensmith nine to lead Punxsutawney’s boys to a 65-44 D9 League win over visiting Bradford.
- Adam Lencer’s two free throws with 12 seconds to play lifted Keystone boys to its second straight two-point win in as many days, this time 54-52 over Venango Catholic/ Lencer finished with a game-high 22 points. Scott Toy had 18 and Devan Zagar 17 for the Vikings. It’s the second time this year Keystone has beaten VC by 2. The Panthers won 63-61 in overtime in the season opener. The Vikings have lost four games this year by 3 points or less.
- Karns City outscored Clarion 20-2 in the first quarter in a showdown between the top teams in the two KSAC girls’ divisions. The first quarter was a big reason why the Lady Gremlins, the top-ranked team in the Laurel Eye Clinic rankings, beat Clarion 54-33. LeeAnn Gibson led KC with 14 points with Shanel Preston adding 13.
- Venango Catholic’s girls crushed Keystone 57-36 thanks to 22 points from Lindsay Homan. The Lady Panthers, who got 10 from Madison Johnson, have now lost three straight and four of five since starting the year 6-1.
- At least two District 9 teams didn’t attempt a free throw on the night, as East Forest’s boys were kept off the line in a 70-26 loss to Union and ECC’s girls didn’t attempt a charity shot in a 40-26 victory over Brookville.