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Late run helps No. 2 ECC top No. 1 Johnsonburg

ST. MARYS, Pa. –Elk County Catholic used a late-game 8-0 spurt to beat Johnsonburg, 67-66, in a battle of the top two teams in the Laurel Eye Clinic D9Sports.com District 9 Boys’ Basketball Rankings Friday night in St. Marys.

The second-ranked Crusaders (14-2 overall, 7-1 AML North) trailed by four, 60-56, a little less than midway through the fourth quarter but scored nine of the game’s next 10 points to take a 64-60 lead on a pair of Cory Huff free throw with just under a minute-and-a-half to play.

Top-ranked Johnsonburg (15-3, 6-1) got back within three, 64-61, thanks to one free throw by Cole Peterson, who had a career-high 33 points, the first 30-point game of his career before Brandon Schlimm hit one of two free throws to make it 65-61 with 28 seconds to play.

Cameron Grumley, who had 17 for the Rams, closed the gap to 65-64 with a 3-pointer with 22 seconds to go before Cory Huff, who had a team-high 21 points for ECC, hit two clutch free throws two seconds later to make it 67-64.

Christian Cherry, though, scored with six seconds left to cut the lead to 67-66. But a timeout call by Johnsonburg head coach Bill Shuey wasn’t granted by the officials, and ECC was able to get the ball inbounds as time expire.

Trailing by four, 60-56, with 3:50 to play, Schlimm got the Crusader comeback started when he hit a 3-pointer to cut the Johnsonburg lead to one, 60-59. Huff then tied the game with a free throw, one of five by ECC during the run, at the 2:28 mark before Schlimm got the rebound off Huff’s miss of the second charity shot and Ivan Wortman converted two free shots to put ECC, which has won nine straight, up for good, 62-60. Huff then made it 64-60 when he hit two more free throws.

ECC started strong taking an 11-0 lead right out of the blocks before Johnsonburg regained its footing cutting the Crusader advantage to four, 16-12, when Peterson beat the buzzard at the end of the opening eight minutes.

The Crusaders, though, expanded their lead by a point, to 30-25, at halftime.

ECC continued to lead, 48-44, heading to the fourth quarter, but Johnsonburg scored the quarter’s first six points to take their first lead of the game, 50-48, on an old-school three by Zane Hodgdon 49 seconds into the final quarter.

The Crusaders answered back with an old-school three of its own by Huff to make it 51-50 ECC, but Johnsonburg went on a 10-5 run to take the 60-56 lead.

Mitchell Struble added 17 with Schlimm chipping in 13 and Wortman nine for ECC, which broke an 11-game losing streak to Johnsonburg with the win.

Peterson hit seven 3-pointers and was 6 of 6 from the free-throw line on his way to the 33 for Johnsonburg.

The Rams have still taken two of three so far this year from ECC, and while no other regular-season games are scheduled between the teams, it would be a safe bet to think they will meet somewhere in the postseason whether it be the AML playoffs, the District 9 playoffs or even the PIAA playoffs.

ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 67, JOHNSONBURG 66

Score by Quarters

Johnsonburg 12 13 19 22 – 66

Elk CC 16 14 18 19 – 67

Johnsonburg – 66

Cherry 2 1-2 5, Grumley 7 1-3 17, Benson 1 0-4 2, Peterson 10 6-6 33, Feronti 1 0-0 3, Hodgdon 2 2-3 6. Totals 23 10-18 66.

ECC – 67

Struble 6 1-1 17, Herzing 1 0-0 3, Schlimm 4 2-4 13, Lecker 0 0-2 0, Singer 1 2-2 4, Wortman 3 2-2 9, Huff 7 6-9 21. Totals 22 13-20 67.

Three-pointers – Johnsonburg 10 (Peterson 7, Grumley 2, Feronti). ECC 9 (Struble 4, Schlimm 3, Herzing, Wortman).

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