Home » Uncategorized » PIAA Basketball Playoff Preview: The District 9 teams & their 1st round opponents

PIAA Basketball Playoff Preview: The District 9 teams & their 1st round opponents

BOYS CLASS A – Bracket 

(9-1) RIDGWAY (20-6) vs. (10-3) EISENHOWER (15-9)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday March 7

Where: Clarion University’s Tippin Gym

Winner gets: (5-1) Berlin-Brothersvalley or (7-3) Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic

Game notes: Eisenhower is playing with house money. The Knights thought their season was over last Friday after a double-overtime, 66-62, loss to Kennedy Catholic in the District 10 consolation game. But Monday, Eisenhower found out Kennedy Catholic was forfeiting that game due to the use of an ineligible player … Top players for the Knights including senior guard Tre Frank  (10.6 ppg), junior forward Jarrett Johnson (9.6 ppg) and sophomore guard Casey Vincent (9.9 ppg) … This is the second straight year Eisenhower has gone to the PIAA playoffs as the No. 3 team out of District 10. Last year, the Knights lost to Johnsonburg 62-30. Vincent (3 points) and Johnson (0 points) both played in that game … Ridgway was a bit of a surprise to win the District 9 title coming out of the sixth seed to do so and avenging a regular-season loss to Elk County Catholic in the title game … The Elkers are paced by explosive sophomore forward Jeremy Brier (17.0 ppg) while Josh Roselli (12.0 ppg) and Joe Horning (8.3 ppg) also play key roles on offense. But its Ridgway’s tough man-to-man defense that has been the real key for the Elkers, as Ridgway allows a District 9-low 36.3 ppg.

 (9-2) ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC (23-4) vs. (6-3) HOMER-CENTER (22-3)

When: 6 p.m. Friday March 7

Where: Clarion University’s Tippin Gym

Winner gets: (10-1) Cochranton or (7-4) Vincentian Academy

Game notes: This is a rematch of the 2009 second-round game won by Elk County Catholic, 59-56, at DuBois Middle School … It also marks the second straight year Homer-Center faces the District 9 runner-up in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs having lost to Ridgway 63-39 last season thanks in part to 23 turnovers. Homer-Center also lost in the first round to Coudersport, 70-40, in 2008 … Homer-Center is led by Darren Carr and Joe Capitosti. Carr had 23 points and Capitosti 22 in the District 6 consolation-game win over Juniata Valley (74-62) after Carr had 13 points and 10 rebounds in a District 6 semifinal loss to Bishop Guilfoyle (58-53) … ECC, which was the top seed in the District 9 playoffs before falling to sixth-seeded Ridgway 48-41 in the championship game is paced by Cory Huff (16.0 ppg) and Mitchell Struble (10.4 ppg).

(9-3) JOHNSONBURG (24-3) vs. (7-1) LINCOLN PARK (25-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday March 7

Where: North Hills High School, Pittsburgh

Winner gets: (6-2) Bishop Guilfoyle or (5-2) Forbes Road

Game notes: Where to begin? How about with this being a rematch of last year’s PIAA Class A semifinal when Johnsonburg stunned the state with a 59-53 win over heavily favored Lincoln Park thanks to 22 points apiece from Cameron Grumley and Cole Peterson … Or maybe with the fact that this is the second time this year these teams have met – a rarity for teams in the PIAA playoffs when they are from different districts. In that first meeting, Dec. 17 in Johnsonburg, the Rams stayed with the heavily favored Leopards for three quarters before a 24-10 Lincoln Park advantage in the fourth quarter gave it a 77-59 win with Elijah Minnie scoring 19 points, Maverick Rowan 16, Nelly Cumming 15, Antonio Kellem 14 and Ryan Skovranko 13 and Grumley (20) and Peterson (21) doing all they good for Johnsonburg … Or perhaps it’s the fact Lincoln Park still doesn’t appear to be over the semifinal loss from a year ago with assistant coach and athletics director Mike Bariski telling the Pittsburgh Tribune Review “These guys wanted to play them again in the playoffs. Johnsonburg took away what they thought was theirs.” … This much is for sure, if Johnsonburg wins again it may be even a bigger upset than last year. For while the Rams are good, they aren’t quite the same team as a year ago with this year’s supporting group for Grumley and Peterson being less experienced than last years. Grumley and Peterson continue to do their part averaging 21.5 ppg and 20.7 ppg respectively. But the rest of the team is averaging just 24.5 ppg with Zane Hodgdon (6.4 ppg) and Kevin Benson (6.0 ppg) the only other healthy players even scoring 5.0 ppg for the Rams … Lincoln Park, meanwhile, is pretty close to the “small college” Monessen head coach Joe Salvino described them to be going into the WPIAL title game last week where Lincoln Park boat raced Salvino’s Greyhounds with a record-setting 85-41 win, a title that eluded the Leopards a year ago. Minnie, the 6-9 forward, had 20 points, 16 rebounds and 12 blocked shots in the title game, while Kelem added 16 … Rowan is averaging 25.2 ppg on the year with Minnie adding 16.8, Skovranko 13.1  and Kellem 12.5.

(9-4) CLARION-LIMESTONE (22-4) vs. (6-1) BISHOP CARROLL (25-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday March 7

Where: Richland High School, Johnstown

Winner gets: (7-2) Monessen or (10-2) Erie First Christian

Game notes: C-L is making its second trip to the PIAA playoffs in three years, and the Lions are hoping for a better result than in 2012 when they were overmatched in a 93-54 loss to Lincoln Park. Junior point guard RJ Laugand and senior guard Brent Slater were the lone current Lions to play in that game with Laugand scoring 7 points and Slater 3 … Laugand is the unquestioned leader of this year’s team averaging 19.2 ppg. Freshman sensation Dan Callen adds 11.9 ppg, while Josh Kahle chips in 10.9 and Kolton Stiglitz 9.2    The Lions have been very good defensively this year allowing the sixth fewest points per game in D9 at 44.1 ppg despite scoring the most per game at 68.3 ppg … Bishop Carroll, which was the District 6 runner-up last year, advanced to the 2013 PIAA Class A quarterfinals before dropping an 86-84 decision to Lincoln Park … The Huskies are led by the tandem of junior guard Brandon Martinazzi (19.8 ppg) and 6-foot-6 senior center Marcus Lee (16.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg) … C-L is looking for its first PIAA playoff win since beating West Middlesex 70-61 in the opening round in 2002.


(9-1) CLARION (20-6) vs. (7-5) FRAZIER (16-5)

When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday March 8

Where: Clarion University’s Tippin Gym

Winner gets: (5-1) Southern Fulton or (7-3) Quigley Catholic

Game notes: Clarion, which is in the PIAA playoffs for the fourth straight year, had a successful run in the PIAA playoffs last year beating Winchester Thurston and Conemaugh Township before falling to Bishop Guilfoyle in the quarterfinals … Frazier, which is in the PIAA playoffs for the first time in school history, hasn’t played since Feb. 22 when the Commodores fell to eventual WPIAL champion Vincentian Academy 60-21 in the WPIAL quarterfinals That loss marked the fifth time this year Frazier failed to reach 30 points in a game including failing to get to 20 twice. One of those games was actually a win, 29-14, over Sewickley Academy in the opening round of the WPIAL playoffs … Cassidy Guiser (9.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.1 apg through 15 games) and Lauren Timko (8.5 ppg. 4.7 rpg  through 15 games) are the leaders for the Commodores … Clarion is paced by a pair of experienced players in junior guard Maci Thornton (16.0 ppg) and senior guard/forward Kyla Miles (16.4 ppg). Miles is over 1,000 points in her career while Thornton, who also has over 300 career steals, is 22 points from 1,000 in her career. She is averaging 20.7 ppg in three postseason games this year … The Lady Cats are usually a team known for defense, but this year’s it’s the Clarion offense that has scored them averaging 53.1 ppg, the third-best mark in D9 while allowing 43.8 ppg, which is in the lower half of District 9 (18th of 34 teams).

(9-2) KEYSTONE (18-8) vs. (6-3 CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL (20-5)

When: 4 p.m. Saturday March 8

Where: Clarion University’s Tippin Gym

Winner gets: (10-1) Kennedy Catholic or (7-4) California (Pa.)

Game notes: Keystone is about as prepared as a team could be for the PIAA playoffs having played nine games vs. six PIAA playoff teams this season, although the Lady Panthers haven’t been that successful against those teams going just 2-7 … Junior guard Madison Johnson is one of the top players in District 9 if not the entire state. She is averaging 17.2 ppg on the year but has risen her game in the postseason averaging 24.0 ppg in four postseason contests while helping Keystone, which is in the PIAA postseason for the third straight year, go from the seventh seed in D9 to district runners-up. Johnson, who missed last year’s postseason with a torn ACL, is averaging 19.0 ppg in her last 14 games after getting some rust off from the injury. She is the lone Keystone player averaging in double digits but does get help scoring from teammates Amber Hess (9.6 ppg) and McKenna Shick (7.5 ppg) … Claysburg-Kimmel, which lost to Bishop Guilfoyle, 52-36, in the District 6 semifinals before beating Bishop Carroll 43-40 in the consolation game, are led by the three players in double digits. Senior Abigayle Kulick was averaging 17.3 ppg going into the D6 semifinals, while sophomore Paige Burk was adding 11.4 ppg and senior Madison Ickes 10.8 ppg. Kulick adds 7.3 rpg, 3.9 apg and 3.2 spg.

(9-3) PORT ALLEGANY (23-1) vs. (7-1) VINCENTIAN ACADEMY (22-3)

When: 5 p.m. Saturday March 8

Where: Chartiers Valley High School, Bridgeville

Winner gets: (6-2) Portage or (5-3) Berlin-Brothersvalley

Game notes: Port Allegany went through the regular season unbeaten before being upended by Clarion in the District 9 semifinals … The Lady Gators were 1-1 in the PIAA playoffs last year, when they were the D9 runner-up, beating Penns Manor before losing 70-21 to Kennedy Catholic in the second round … Sr. 1,000-point scorer Becca Lathrop leads Port at 16.5 ppg, while Brooke Roys adds 11.3 ppg … The Lady Gators are the best defensive team statistically in District 9 allowing 27.3 ppg although they allowed 43.7 ppg in three District 9 postseason games … Vincentian Academy, the PIAA runner-up last season, is led by Brenna Wise (18.7 ppg) and Torrieonna Cash (10.1 ppg) … The Royals losses this season have come to Class AAAA Butler, WPIAL Class AA champion Seton-LaSalle and Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic.

(9-4) VENANGO CATHOLIC (19-6) vs. (6-1) BISHOP GUILFOYLE (20-5)

When: 4 p.m. Saturday March 8

Where: Altoona Fieldhouse

Winner gets: (7-2) Serra Catholic or (10-2) Cochranton

Game notes: This is the newbie vs. the experienced veteran … Venango Catholic is in the PIAA postseason for the first time since joining District 9 in 2005 and for the first time since it appears the mid-1980s (VC won the 1980 PIAA Class A title while a member of District 10), while Bishop Guilfoyle has played in 12 PIAA state title games (7 in Class A and 5 in Class AA) winning six times including four times in Class A. The Marauders won PIAA Class A titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010 and lost in 2011. Last year, they fell to Vincentian Academy in the PIAA semifinals after beating Clarion in the quarterfinals … Venango Catholic is balanced offensively led by Lindsay Homan (15.5 ppg), Taylor Moltz (13.6 ppg) and Ava Homan (10.5 ppg) …  A freshman is one of the top players for Bishop Guilfoyle, as Macy Adams averaging 13.3 ppg and hit the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in the D6 title game to lift Bishop Guilfoyle to a 57-55 win over Portage. She had 20 points and nine rebounds in that game after scoring 15 points in a semifinal win over Claysburg-Kimmel.

CLASS AA BOYS – Bracket 

(9-1) BROOKVILLE (11-14) vs. (10-3) MERCYHURST PREP (18-7)

When: 7 p.m. Saturday March 8

Where: Clarion University’s Tippin Gym

Winner gets: (7-1) Seton-LaSalle or (6-4 Penns Valley)

Game notes: Brookville is believed to be the first District 9 Class A or Class AA boys’ team to win a D9 title with a losing record … The Raiders are back in the state playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons but they haven’t won a state playoff game since 1997 in Class AAA when they beat Seton-LaSalle for their only PIAA playoff win ever …  Mercyhurst Prep is in the third-place team out of District 10 for the second straight year. Last season, the Lakers beat D9 champion Brockway, 56-46, before losing in the second round to Beaver Falls … Mercyhurst Prep is paced by senior guard Rocco Agnello (13.1 ppg) … Nate Shirts leads Brookville, which has won 7 of its past 10 games including three in the D9 postseason after entering as the sixth seed, at 16.1 ppg. Tate Canavan adds 8.8 ppg  and Jack Huggins 7.8. although Huggins is coming off a career-high 21 points in the D9 title game win over Redbank Valley.


(9-1) KARNS CITY (24-1) vs. GIRARD (19-6)

When: 7 p.m. Friday March 7, 2014

Where: Clarion High School

Winner gets: (7-3) Bishop Canevin or (6-2) Juniata

Game notes: Karns City is back in the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 2008 and looking for its first PIAA playoff win since 2007 when it beat Shady Side Academy before losing to Girard, 48-37, in the second round … The Lady Gremlins are a deep team led by LeeAnn Gibson’s 16.2 ppg, while Emily LoPresti adds 11.8, Shanel Preston 11.7 and Annie Hegedus 7.4. Preston was fantastic in the D9 postseason averaging 17.3 ppg in three games … Girard could provide Karns City with a matchup issue inside, as 5-foot-11 junior Maria Welch is the team’s top scorer (13.1 ppg) and rebounder, and guards Makenzie Bonnett and Lauren Davenport (7.9 ppg) are also key players for the Yellowjackets.

(9-2) CLARION-LIMESTONE (16-9) vs. (7-2) BURRELL (25-1)

When: 6 p.m. Friday March 7

Where: North Hills High School, Pittsburgh

Winner gets: (6-1) Bellwood-Antis or (7-4) McGuffey

Game notes: C-L is making its first PIAA playoff appearance since 2007, when it was the fourth-place team in Class A … Burrell, meanwhile, went to the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals last season where they lost to Bishop Canevin, 41-29 … C-L is basically a 5-person team and didn’t play junior varsity most of the season … Seniors Lily Port (12.8 ppg), Abby Mellott (12.4 ppg) and Alissa Burns (11.0 ppg) are the leading scorers for the Lady Lions … Burrell is paced by Peppersinde recruit Sydney Bordonaro, a junior, who is averaging 16.4 ppg, while Natalie Myers adds 12.9 ppg … The Buccaneers won their first 25 games before suffering a 55-34 loss to Seton-LaSalle in the WPIAL title game.


(9-1) PUNXSUTAWNEY (14-9) vs. (7-4) UNIONTOWN (21-2)  

When: 7 p.m. Friday March 7

Where: DuBois Middle School

Winner gets: (10-1) Farrell or (7-5) Montour

Game notes: Punxsutawney is in the PIAA main round for the first time since 1994 – the Chucks lost a play-in game to Central Valley, 54-45, in 2012 – and haven’t won a PIAA playoff game since going to the Class AAAA title game in 1992 … Uniontown, which lost to WPIAL runner-up Chartiers Valley in the semifinals, had a 12-game win streak broken by that loss. The Red Raiders only other loss was a 4-point loss to WPIAL Class A runner-up Monessen … Punxsutawney is paced by Brandon Mancuso (15.9 ppg) and Tyler Young (13.3 ppg) … Uniontown is led by four players in double figures paced by Jordan Pratt (20.1 ppg). Joe Campbell chips in 15.0 ppg, Xavier Ellis 11.1 ppg and Lyric Ellis 10.4 ppg.


(9-1) BRADFORD (21-2) vs. (7-4) ELIZABETH FORWARD (20-4)

When: 5 p.m. Saturday March 8

Where: Pitt-Bradford

Winner gets: (6-1) Huntingdon or (7-5) Mt. Pleasant

Game notes: Bradford is making its third straight appearances in the full bracket of the PIAA playoffs (the Lady Owls also were a play-in team four years ago) but it has fallen in the opening round at Pitt-Bradford in each of the last two season dropping an 86-46 decision to Blackhawk last year after falling to the same team, 67-58, in 2012 … 1,000-point scorer Ali Rinfrette paces Bradford at 13.7 ppg but is the lone Lady Owl averaging in double digits. Liz Copella and Rylee Lundgren each add 8.1 ppg with Haley Vinelli chipping in 7.8 ppg … Elizabeth Forward is led by five players in double digits – Kylie Owoc (14.0 ppg), Abigail Sporio (13.8 ppg), Allison Pastore (12.8 ppg), Oliva Barkley (11.8 ppg) and Natalie Fekula (11.5 ppg).


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