Bobcats Claim District Nine Class-A Boys Basketball Title, With Overtime Win Over Johnsonburg

(Photos by Kendra Craddock) Above: 2021 District Nine Class-A Boys Champion Clarion Area Bobcats

With ice water in his veins, Hunter Craddock, who is known for his strong inside game, came through with two free throws with :00.6 seconds on the clock in overtime, to lift the Clarion Area Bobcats to a 58-56 victory, in the District Nine Class-A Boys Championship, over the homestanding Johnsonburg Rams, on Tuesday (March 16th). This is the Bobcats’ first District Championship since 2003. With the win, the 16-9 Bobcats will host District Six champion Bishop Carroll, in the PIAA State quarterfinals, on Friday (March 19th).

The Cats held a 13-8 lead after one and with two quick buckets by Christian Simko, to open the second period, the Clarion lead moved to 17-8. Simko and Cal German who had a game high 31 points, combined for 9 of Clarion’s 12 points in the second, as they edged the Rams by one, to take a 25-19 lead into the half.

Johnsonburg took their first lead, 28-27, at about the five minute mark of the third, on a basket by Eric Christoff. The Rams outscored the Bobcats 18-8 in the period, to carry a 37-33 edge into the fourth quarter.

Down 45-41 in the fourth, the Bobcats went on a 7-0 run, on a bucket by Beau Verdill, a basket by Simko, a pair of free throws by Verdill and a free throw by German, to lead by three at 1:58. But Christoff hit a three with about 40 seconds left, to send the game into overtime, tied 48-all.

After German tied the score at 52, with about two and a half left Verdill sank a free throw to give the Cats a one point lead. But Cameron Stelene, hit a bucket to give Johnsonburg a 54-53 lead. German answered with a three-pointer, (one of his five treys on the night, to give the Bobcats a 56-54 lead, with just under a minute to play.

But the Rams Ethan Wells scored his only points of the game on two free throws, to tie the game once again. But with the game winding down, Craddock was fouled and, well as they say, “the rest is history”.

Bobcat seniors: (Front) Ezra Brooks. Back L-R) Ethan Burford, Hunter Craddock, Beau Verdill, Cal German, Brandon Beish.

In addition to his 31 points, German had five steals. The Bobcats got 10 apiece from Verdill and Simko and seven from Craddock. Verdill had 8 rebounds and five assists. Simko had five rebounds and Craddock had six rebounds.

Stelene and Christoff led the Rams with twenty-four and nineteen points respectively.

Congratulations, Cats!!!! Beat the Huskies!!!!

(Thanks to Kendra Craddock for her photos!)