Bobcat Boys And Girls Basketball Teams Win District Nine – Class-A Consolation Bracket, Move On To PIAA State Championships

Photos courtesy of Nate Girvan – Above: Gabe Simko and Devon Lauer displaying the Bobcats’ smothering defense which was evident throughout the game.

Both Clarion Area basketball teams won their final District Nine – Class-A consolation bracket games on Thursday (March 2nd), to secure the district’s final PIAA State Championship playoff spot.

The Bobcat Boys downed Keystone 69-41 at Clarion-Limestone, while the Girls downed Port Allegany 35-31 at Brockway.

The Boys will now face District 7 (WPIAL) Champion Imani Christian, in the opening round of States, next Friday (March 10th), with the Saints having the option of hosting the matchup. The Girls will also face the WPIAL Champion, either Union (New Castle) or Aquinas Academy, in the opening round. That contest is scheduled for next Saturday (March 11th), with the WPIAL Champion having the option of hosting.

Boys Game: Clarion 69 – Keystone 41

Clarion used a strong underneath game, solid shooting from outside, great rebounding that led to second chance baskets and a smothering defense in securing the victory.

The Bobcats jumped out to a 21-13 lead in the first, helped in large part by a pair of three-pointers by Devon Lauer and one each by Dawson Smail and Bryce Brinkley. Gabe Simko contributed four points in the run. But a late trey by Keystone’s Drew Keth and buzzer beater for two by Aidan Sell had the Panthers within three 21-18 heading to the second.

Clarion took control of the game with a 15-0 run to open the second, for a 36-18 lead and with a 9-5 run to close out the period, the Cats took a twenty point 43-23 lead into halftime.

The Bobcats expanded their lead to 59-28 after three by outscoring the Panthers 14-5 in the frame.

Keystone had 13-10 edge in the fourth to set the final.

In all, the Bobcats had nine three-point buckets in the contest.

Dawson Smail looking to feed a teammate.

Devon Lauer led the Bobcat scoring with 17 points, including three buckets from beyond-the-arc. Dawson Smail also had a big night shooting from outside, collecting four 3-pointers and finishing with sixteen points. Gabe Simko, who had a big night underneath, finished with twelve points.

Bryce Brinkley had five points (1 trey), Dauntae Girvan, who came back after missing several games with injury, contributed 5 points, and Tanner Miller and Derek Smail contributed four apiece.

Nathan Frederick and Mason Burford rounded out the scoring for Clarion, with Frederick scoring a trey and Burford contributing two points.

Drew Keth led the Panthers with 16 points, which included 4 treys and Cole Henry finished with twelve.

Bobcats Head Coach Scott Fox had this to say after the game, “The kids came out. We were back and forth for a little bit. It turned into a track meet and then we turned it around. In the second quarter we played hard, better defense, got turnovers and held them to one shot on the boards.

“The kids played well. They’re definitely improving. They are playing hard, working it up and if nothing else we’re building toward next year.

“We’re in the states, a good accomplishment. We get a nice trip next week, so it’s good for the kids experience-wise to be in the state tournament.”

Girls Game: Clarion 35 – Port Allegany 31

Clarion led 10-7 after the first, but the Gators used a 14-4 second quarter edge to lead 21-14 at the half. The Bobcats had an 11-5 edge in the third and found themselves down by only one point, 26-25 heading to the final stanza, where a 10-5 advantage by the Cats set the final.

Sophie Babington led Clarion with 9 points, followed by Taylor Alston’s 8 points and Marley Kline’s seven points.

Gia Babington had 6 points for the Bobcats, while Natalie Durish and Alivia Diehl completed the ledger, with three and two points respectively.

Ella Moses led Port Allegany with eight points.

Clarion Head Coach Sam Heeter was very happy with his team’s play. “I just want it to be clear how immensely proud we are of the girls.

“They showed incredible resiliency last night, in a game where they could have very easily shut down. They played extremely hard through some tough adversity and were able to come out on top.”

(Way to go, Cats!!!! Enjoy States!!!! Thanks to Nate Girvan for his photos!!)

(Note: Some of the stats etc. culled from various media sources.)