Bison Must Upend No. 1 Seed To Claim Third D-9 Class AAA Title

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HYDE — With perennial contender Bradford out of the picture for the first time in five years, District 9 will crown a new Class AAA boys champion Friday night when Clearfield challenges No. 1 seed Punxsutawney at 5:30 on the Tippin Gym hardwood at Clarion University.

Bradford, which has dominated the second-largest division since 2001 with 10 championships, is not represented after back-to-back title runs.

Clearfield will be seeking its first toga in five years and only its third since Class AAA was added to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Association Championships for the 1990-91 season.

The 2008-09 Bison team coached by current mentor Forrest Campman defeated St. Marys 49-37 in the finals, and the 1998-1999 coached by Don Shimmel beat St. Marys 69-43 for the crown.

Punxsutawney’s lone Class AAA title after winning 16 big-school championships from 1952 through 1994 came in 2005, when the Chucks won 60-41 over Clearfield, which had upset No. 1 seed Bradford 49-22 in the semifinals.

Records would indicate the Bison, 6-16 with only one victory over a winning team, face a daunting task against the Chucks, whose 13-9 mark includes a 70-38 home-court win when the teams met on Jan. 3.

Punxsy rained three-pointers over the Clearfield zone that night, with nine hitting their target.

Forward Tyler Young drained four of the treys and guard Brandon Mancuso nailed three as the two seniors almost neutralized the Bison offense by combining for 35 points.

They accounted for 19 points during a 23-6 run in the first quarter.

Senior forward Cory Greer grabbed the spotlight in the second period with 13 of his 15 points to propel the Chucks to a 42-20 halftime lead that they expanded in both of the last two quarters.

“It was by far the best game they played all year, and that was when we were playing the worst we’ve played,” Campman said. “They hit us with a three-quarter 2-2-1 zone press that we hadn’t seen, and we dribbled right into traps.

“We’ve seen it a couple times since then, and we won’t panic like we did that night.

“It took us a while to get there, but if we play like we did the last three weeks of the season, I think we’ll be competitive on a neutral court.”

The Bison have counted on junior forward Eric Sellers (215 points, 9.8 points per game), freshman guard Will Myers (187, 8.5 ppg) and senior swing player Christian Lezzer (140, 8.8 ppg) for the bulk of their offense.

They’ll be joined in the starting lineup by two seniors, guard Seth Ford (45, 2.0 ppg) and forward Jon Janocko (80, 3.8 ppg).

Seniors Wyatt Westen (94, 4.1 ppg), Derek Hryn (85, 3.9) and Andy Brown (44, 2.1 ppg) and sophomore Cody Spaid (82, 3.9 ppg) will be coming off the bench.

Lezzer and Myers are Clearfield’s main threats from outside, logging 25 and 21 three-pointers, respectively. Hryn has knocked down 15 and Sellers has hit nine.

“They’ve practiced hard, and they know they can play with them,” Campman said.

The big key will be limiting Mancuso (353 points, 16.0 ppg) and Young (290, 13.2 ppg).

“Those two guys score a lot,” Campman said. “Young is 6-3 but is more perimeter-oriented. And Geer is a scrappy player.”

Geer (168, 7.6 ppg) is a 5-11 forward who plays bigger than his height.

Junior guard Ryan Sloniger (153, 7.0 ppg) and senior guard Michael Klingensmith (93, 4.2) were the other starters against the Bison coming out of the holiday break.

Also sure to see action will be 6-3 senior forward Will Curtis (78, 3.5 ppg), sophomore guard John Matthews (41, 2.1) and senior guard Clayton Dale (21, 1.0 ppg) .

Punxsy, 7-3 since mid-January, has won three games in a row for the third time this season.

Against common opponents, Clearfield is 1-5 while Punxsy is 4-2.

The Bison beat Harmony 51-32 but lost to Bald Eagle Area three times, Brookville 47-34 and St. Marys 51-41.

The Chucks downed Harmony 65-34, lost at BEA 78-69 on Feb. 1, swept Brookville 59-42 and 56-53 and split with St. Marys, losing 56-52 and winning 45-26 on Feb. 4.

The winner will play the District 10 third place qualifier on Friday, March, 7, at a District 9 site and time to be determined.

Ticket prices are $5 for adults and $2 for students.

Bison Scoreboard:

Date Opponent Score Record
12/09 CURWENSVILLE 38 – 56 0 – 1
12/10 @ Central 32 – 55 0 – 2
12/13 @ Huntingdon 41 – 65 0 – 3
12/18 BALD EAGLE AREA 57 – 89 0 – 4
12/20 @ Bellefonte 52 – 51 1 – 4
  @ PL Lions Club Tourney    
12/27 vs. Bald Eagle Area 41 – 68 1 – 5
12/28 vs. Harmony 51 – 32 2 – 5
01/03 @ Punxsutawney 38 – 70 2 – 6
01/06 TYRONE ppd. 2 – 6
01/07 @ Brookville ppd. 2 – 6
01/09 TYRONE 40 – 62 2 – 7
01/10 @ Penns Valley 39 – 68 2 – 8
01/14 PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA 71 – 56 3 – 8
01/17 ST. MARYS 41 – 51 3 – 9
01/20 DUBOIS 49 – 65 3 – 10
01/22 CENTRAL 44 – 41 4 – 10
01/24 HUNTINGDON 49 – 61 4 – 11
01/28 @ Brookville ppd. 4 – 11
01/29 @ Bald Eagle Area 53 – 73 4 – 12
01/31 BELLEFONTE 58 – 39 5 -12
02/03 @ Brookville 34 – 47 5 – 13
02/05 @ Tyrone ppd. 5 – 13
02/06 @ Tyrone 47 – 74 5 – 14
02/07 PENNS VALLEY 34 – 41 5 – 15
02/12 @ Philipsburg-Osceola 63 – 25 6 – 15
02/14 @ Curwensville 52 – 57 6 – 16
  D9 AAA Championship    
02/28 vs. Punxsutawney (@ Clarion)    

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