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March 13, 2012

PIAA basketball playoffs preview

MERCER COUNTY — BOYS

CLASS A

Who: West Middlesex (21-4) vs. Johnsonburg (23-5).

What: Sweet Sixteen.

When: 6 p.m. today.

Where: Clarion University of Pa. Tippin Gymnasium.

Players to Watch: West Middlesex—Matt Dogan, 6-4 Jr. point guard (23.1 points per game); Trey Staunch, 6-3 Fr. post (14.0); Jeremy Jancso, 6-5 Jr. forward (8.7); Jerrod Palmer, 5-10 Jr. shooting guard (7.0); Roman Klaric, 5-10 Jr. swing-guard (3.8); Christian Porterfield, 6-0 Jr. swingman; Mike Ginther, 6-6 Jr. forward. Johnsonburg—Cameron Grumley, 5-9 Soph. guard (13 ppg.); Cole Peterson, 5-10 Soph. guard (12.3); Quinn Luhr, 6-1 Jr. forward (7.9); Mitch Holmberg, 5-9 Jr. guard (6.4); Michael Shuey, 6-5 Sr. post (6.4); Frank Kocjancic, 6-0 Jr. guard (6.0); Kyle Sheldon, 6-0 Jr. forward (4.1).

Bonus Shots: The Big Reds roared to their 17th consecutive conquest in their PIAA playoff opener via the victory over North Catholic (61-50). They have not lost this calendar year, since suffering a setback to Youngstown East (68-66) at the annual Dresch-McCluskey Holiday Tourney. ... Chad Mild (210-125) is in his 13th year at his alma mater’s helm. This edition of the Big Reds recorded the 4th 20-win season under his direction and captured the program’s 1st District 10 title since 1980 with a 41-38 win over Kennedy Catholic on Palmer’s 3-point OT buzzer-beater. After ending as D-10 runners-up last year, the Big Reds lost to eventual PIAA silver medalist Lincoln Park (70-35) in their state tourney opener. ... Middlesex has made 462 free throws, according to information furnished by AD Mike Williams, and Dogan has drained not quite half of them (204). Collectively, the Big Reds have recorded approximately 71 percent marksmanship from the charity stripe. ... Bill Shuey (5th season, 91-44) skippers Johnsonburg. The Allegheny Mountain League Northern Division Rams rely on defense, outscoring opponents 55.5 to 39.4. ... At Clarion U., Johnsonburg ousted D-6 runner-up Bishop Carroll (57-47) in its PIAA lidlifter, overcoming 25 turnovers and mediocre free-throw shooting (12 for 22) with 75 percent shooting from the floor (21 for 38), according to D9sports.com. Shuey said on D9sports.com, “We were lucky to have twenty-five turnovers and win the game. ... We could have easily held the ball and got a better shot, but we’re still going a hundred miles per hour — and it’s not from (opponents’.) ball pressure; it’s trying to make something out of nothing.” ... Johnsonburg’s losses have occurred to Ridgway (45-38, Elk County Catholic Tipoff Tourney;  39-38, regular season; 49-46, AML championship game, and 40-37, D-9 title tilt — its last D-9 banner was hoisted in 1983); also, Brookville (64-55). The Rams recorded a regular-season win (53-41) in early-February. .. . These programs have a playoff history: In ’03-04 Johnsonburg jolted Middlesex (66-44). ... Johnsonburg’s last PIAA playoff win occurred in the 3rd round of that ’04 postseason, a victory over Vincentian (58-37). ... According to D9sports.com, Johnsonburg’s program has notched 13 trips to the state playoffs and has won at least once in 8 of those appearances. ... This is a virtual “home” game for both Johnsonburg and Ridgway.— By Ed Farrell, Herald assistant sports editor.

 ———

Who: Kennedy Catholic (16-9) vs. Ridgway (26-1).

What: Sweet Sixteen.

When: 7:30 p.m. today.

Where: Clarion University of Pa. Tippin Gymnasium.

Players to Watch: Kennedy Catholic—Mac Hartman, 6-5 Jr. post (14.5 points per game); Kenny Fill, 6-2 Sr. swingman (11.4); Jeffrey Thompkins, 6-2 Jr. swingman (11.0); Lamont McPhatter, 5-11 Soph. swing-guard (5.0); Gerald Zachar, 5-9 Soph. point guard (2.9); Jimmie D’Onofrio, 5-11 Jr. guard; Sam Crow, 6-0 Soph. forward. Ridgway—Eric Matheson, 5-10 Sr. guard (18 ppg.); Jesse Reynolds, 6-1 Jr. guard (9.3); Jordan Lundin, 5-10 Sr. guard (8.4); Josh Mitchell, 6-2 Jr. forward (5.7); Aaron Sorge, 5-11 Sr. guard (5.3); Alex Oknefski, 6-3 Sr. post (3.2).

Bonus Shots: The Golden Eagles enjoyed the program’s initial PIAA playoff win since ’09 by KO’d Cornell (64-53). KC copped its 1st staet tourney triumph in 3rd-year head coach Rick Mancino’s tenure (45-24) at his alma mater. ... A third of Kennedy’s losses were handed out by  West Middlesex, including the District 10 title tilt. ... With that opening-round win the Golden Eagles evened their slate during the last dozen games. ... Kennedy Catholic has captured a half-dozen commonwealth crowns, the first of which (1986) included starters Mancino and his current lead assistant Brian Hoover. The Golden Eagles ended as PIAA runners-up in their last appearance on the statewide stage (’09). ... Coach Tony Allegretto’s Elkers eased to the Allegheny Mountain League Southern Division crown (including a quartet of wins over Johnsonburg). Ridgway roared to a 57.7 to 38.8 nightly norm scoring differential. ... The D-9 championship was the program’s 1st since 1992 (its last PIAA playoff berth) when it competed in Class AA, according to D9sports.com. ... “This was our goal from the beginning. Twenty years in the making, and we finally got a district championship,” Matheson said. ... The Elkers eliminated Sewickley Academy (42-33) in their PIAA playoff opener at Clarion. Allegretto admitted to D9sports.com , “We’ve been really good at blowing leads lately. But the kids keep right on going and seem to make the play we need to.” ... Matheson may be the school’s career scoring leader, but that could not be confirmed by D9sports.com. ... The D-9 champion has won 14 of its last 15 opening-round games on the statewide stage (DuBois Central Catholic lost to Neshannock in 2010), according to D9sports.com. ...

— By Ed Farrell, Herald assistant sports editor.

———

GIRLS

CLASS A

Who: Kennedy Catholic (21-3) vs. Clarion Area (22-4).

What: Sweet Sixteen.

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Where: Butler High.

Top Players: Kennedy Catholic — Alex Ricketts, 5-11 Jr. G/F, 13.6; Marina Wareham, 5-4 Sr. G, 11.7; Brie Dickson, 5-8 Jr. G/F, 10.9; Rachel Burns, 5-10 Jr. G/F, 10.7; Courtney Sargent, 6-2 Jr. F/C, 7.4; Angelene Rapone, 5-6 Sr. G, 6.0. Clarion Area — Kyla Miles, 5-11 Soph. G, 12.1; Brianna Nellis, 5-5 Sr. G, 8.2; Liz Shannonhouse, 5-9 Sr. F, 7.9; Maci Thornton, 5-5 Fr. G, 7.8; Ashley Hummell, 5-8 Jr. F, 7.0; Hannah Wolf, 5-10 Jr. F, 6.2; Kate Fillman, 5-10 Jr. G, 6.1.

Bonus Shots: The Lady Golden Eagles, under 5th-year coach Tom Burns, are ranked 3rd in the state by The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News rankings that were released Sunday. They had previously been ranked 4th. ... Wareham has 1,073 career points, Ricketts has compiled 935 and Burns sits at 754. ... KC's 3 losses this season are against Franklin (73-57) in the Franklin Tipoff Tourney title game, Ursuline (38-35) and Beaver Area (44-32) in the PSU-Beaver Tourney over the holidays. ... KC opened the season with a win over Laurel in the Franklin Tourney and then fell to 1-2 with the back-to-back losses to Franklin and Ursuline. ... Franklin won the D-10 Class AAA title and play Chartiers Valley Wednesday at New Castle High. Ursuline made a deep run in the OHSAA Div. III playoffs before being upset by United. Beaver Area lost to Char Valley in the 1st round of the WPIAL playoffs. ... KC is on a 17-game winning streak. ... In the D-10 playoffs, KC had a 1st-round bye, routed Linesville (79-48) in the semis and rolled past Conneaut Valley (56-21) for its 3rd D-10 title (2nd straight) in 4 seasons. ... The KC girls have won 18 D-10 titles and 1 PIAA title (2001). ... On Saturday, KC pounded Riverview (59-30) at Sharon High in the 1st round of the state playoffs. Burns bucketed 19 and Dickson contributed 13 markers. ... KC's tough defense and balanced scoring have given teams fits this season. They are only allowing 35 points per game while scoring 66.9 a game. ... KC advanced to the 2nd round of the PIAAs last season. The 2 years prior to that, they were ousted in the 1st round. ... Last year, KC beat Rochester (41-27) in the opening round and then fell to Homer-Center (49-44) and finished 21-4. ... Two years ago, they were ousted by Bishop Guilfoyle (64-44), which went on to win their 2nd straight state title and 3rd in 4 years, and 3 seasons ago KC lost to West Forest (53-38). ... Clarion’s Lady Bobcats, coached by 9th-year mentor Roger Walter (142-91), are listed as a "Team to Watch" in The Patriot-News rankings. ... They average 57.8 points per game and allow 40.5. ... Nellis averages 5 assists and 5 steals per game. ... The Lady Cats of District 9, who compete in the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference North Division, stunned Hickory (45-42) on Dec. 9at the Kittanning Tipoff Tournament. They then beat Moniteau for the title on Dec. 10. ... They also won the Oil City Christmas Tourney on Dec. 28-29 with wins over Ft. LeBoeuf (60-42) and OC (68-42). ... They finished 10-2 in the KSAC North behind Cranberry (12-0). ... Clarion’s 4 losses this season have come against Keystone (65-45, 39-25) and Cranberry (45-43, 59-39). Keystone is the D-9 Class A champ while Cranberry won the D-9 AA title. Both were still around for the 2nd round of the PIAAs. Keystone plays North Catholic on Wedneday while Cranberry faces Girard Tuesday. ... In the D-9 playoffs, Clarion Area routed Smethport (74-30) in the quarterfinals, edged Elk County Catholic (47-41) in the semis and fell to Keystone (39-25) in the title tilt. ... In the D-9 championship game, Clarion scored 5 second-half points on 2 of 25 shooting. Nellis and Wolf had 6 points each. It was Clarion’s 1st appearance in the district title game since it won the crown in 1992. ... In the 1st round of the PIAA playoffs, the Lady Cats stunned Homer-Center (62-52) at Clarion University for its 1st state playoff win in 20 years (vs. Avonworth 45-41 in ’92). Homer-Center star Katelyn Skinner, who is going D-I  University of Hartford, fired in 26 points, but fouled out with 3:01 to go with Clarion leading 54-50. Skinner finished with 1,766 career points, H-C's all-time leading scorer. Nellis had 16 points and 6 rebounds and Miles bucketed 12 to lead Clarion. Homer-Center had 3 returning starters (5 seniors total) who advanced all the way to the western region finals last year before bowing out to Bishop Guilfoyle, who then lost the PIAA title game to Steelton-Highspire. ... Last season, Clarion was ousted in the 1st round of the PIAAs by North Catholic (80-41). ... Liz Shannonhouse is the daughter of Farrell High boys coach Roland Shannonhouse. — By Rob Malsom, Herald sports editor.

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