SLIPPERY ROCK – Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee franchise is the Brewers, but the Kennedy Catholic High boys’ basketball team has its own “Brew Crew.
Arlen Brewer bucketed a team-high 14 points Friday night, tossing in a trio of treys, as the Golden Eagles erupted for 28 second-period points en route to a 58-37 conquest of Cochranton in the District 10 Class A championship game.
“That’s my job, coming off (the bench), giving the team a lift, get the ball, share here and there, then get a couple buckets, rebound, containing (opponents) on defense,” Brewer summarized, adding, “Just keeping the team hyped.”
Kennedy Catholic (17-6) captured its initial D-10 title since 2009 and the 1st in the 4-year tenure of head coach Rick Mancino.
In addition to Brewer, the Golden Eagles’ entourage included Chris James and Mac Hartman, who evenly divided 16 points, Brennan Wassil, who, like Brewer, burst off the bench to boast 6 points and 8 rebounds – one less then Hartman’s game-high – and Jimmy D’Onofrio, who dished out 4 assists.
Another key for Kennedy was senior Jeffrey Thompkins, who tallied a 13-point, 3-rebound, 3-assist line despite playing with a torn left ACL knee injury.
“Every time he touches the ball I get excited for him, but I also just feel awful,” Mancino admitted. “because I know Jeff was looking so forward to his his senior year, but I know he’s in pain, and he just won’t admit it. What he’s doing is just huge for us. He was having a great senior year, but when he had his injury, he just had to slowly come back, and he works hard at practice every day, and he goes to re-hab to get his knee as strong as he can. As a coach, I appreciate him. It’s just unbelievable.”
A knee injury wrecked the Redbirds, as leading scorer Nick Dickson sustained what appeared to be a debilitating knee injury with 6:30 remaining to intermission. He did not return, and consequently, Kennedy keyed on Dickson’s backcourt mate, Logan Herzberger, harassing him with continuous double-team pressure.
KC connected only 9 of 11 floor shots and 7 of 9 free throws during the 2nd stanza, snapping a 10-all stalemate after the opening quarter and surging to a commanding 38-20 margin at intermission at Morrow Field House.
“The sloppy 2nd half saw Kennedy commit 18 turnovers, but Cochranton could not compensate for the emotional loss of Dickson.
Herzberger hit a dozen points for 1st-year head coach Scott McCurdy’s Cardinals, but other than him and Garrett Adams, who annexed 9 points and snared 7 caroms, the Redbirds (15-9) never recovered from that 1st-half deficit.
Kennedy came up short in overtime in last year’s title tilt to West Middlesex on an overtime buzzer-beater, so Mancino made the most of the moment.
“It’s great feeling! I’m really happy for my players. I got one (district championship) as a player, and this is what it’s all about. Last year was a heartbreaking experience, but our players are very excited! We’re gonna enjoy this.
“I felt bad when (Dickson) got hurt,” Mancino admitted. “He’s a ver good player, and we spent the last three days preparing for him, then he got hurt. We were in that same experience when Jeff got hurt. But once (Dickson) went out, we started taking control defensively, taking (Herzberger) work for everthing he got, and we got some easy shots.”
KC connected on 21 of 38 floor shots and 12 of 16 free-throw attempts. Conversely, Cochranton canned only 12 of 56 from the floor and 12 of 22 from the line.
Brewer burst with pride at the prospect of playing in March as the Golden Eagles embark on the PIAA playoffs.
“If I don’t get 20 (points), but I get 15 assists or 5 rebounds, as long as I contribute … as long as we win the D-10 championship,” Brewer began, adding, “It’s my first time playing in the state playoffs. At Farrell (from where he transferred) we got knocked out twice in the playoffs – her (Slippery Rock University), actually. So, my senior year, the last time I’m going to be playing high school basketball, I’ve got to make something of it.”
DISTRICT 10 CLASS A CHAMPIONSHIP
COCHRANTON 10 10 7 10 37
KENNEDY 10 28 10 10 58
COCHRANTON — Dickson 1-0-0-2, Herzberger 3-6-8-12, Saunier 0-1-2-1, Custead 1-0-0-2, Adams 4-1-2-9, Roche 0-1-2-1, Vanderhoof 2-1-2-6, Wigton 0-2-4-2, Bridge 1-0-0-2, Villamar 0-0-2-0, Sekerski 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goal: Vanderhoof 1. Totals: 12-12-22-37.
KENNEDY CATHOLIC — Thompkins 6-1-1-13, James 3-2-3-8, Hartman 2-4-6-8, D’Onofrio 2-0-0-5, Zachar 0-0-0-0, Brewer 4-3-4-14, Wassil 3-0-0-6, Crow 0-0-0-0, Leipheimer 0-0-0-0, G. Cianci 0-0-0-0, Feeney 0-0-0-0, Hurton 0-0-0-0, Weldon 0-2-2-2, Perrico 1-0-0-2, Campbell 0-0-0-0, N. Cianci 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Brewer 3, D’Onofrio 1. Totals: 21-12-16-58.