Five District 9 basketball teams survived the first round of the PIAA Playoffs last weekend, but only the Class A DuBois Central Catholic boys made it through the second round with a 77-63 win over Western Beaver Tuesday night.
After ousting two WPIAL teams, the Cardinals (25-3) will be playing a third in Clairton (17-4) Friday at 6 p.m. in Memorial Fieldhouse on the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus. Clairton, District 7\’s fourth seed, sidelined District 9 runner-up Keystone 44-39 Tuesday.
DuBois CC, which was the top seed for the 9-A tourney but wound up fourth, has returned to regular season form with victories over District 7 (WPIAL) champion Leechburg 74-62 and Western Beaver, which was the fifth seed.
Against Leechburg (16-11), the Cardinals overcame an 18-12 deficit after one period for what probably was an historic win, a 9-4 qualifier knocking off the D-7 king. Chris Wulderk led the way with 21 points, while Dom Varacallo had 16, Christian Spilman 14 and Andrew Welch 13.
Wulderk (20), Cody Wilson (17) and Spilman (13) fronted the DCC offense against Western Beaver (19-7). The Cardinals opened a 40-15 bulge with a 17-0 advantage in the second quarter. The losers needed a 27-15 fourth quarter to make the final score respectable.
A 16-6 third quarter carried Clairton past Keystone (25-3), although the Panthers closed to within a point with 3:02 left.
The DCC-Clairton winner will play either Serra Catholic or Kennedy Catholic in the Western Region final.
Serra Catholic (24-3) was the overwhelming favorite in the WPIAL but placed third after being upset by Leechburg in the semifinals. The Eagles showcased that talent Tuesday in eliminating defending state champion Elk County Christian 65-58. The District 9 champion Crusaders (27-3) started a 25-3 run in the second quarter to lead 44-29 with 5:33 left in the third quarter. The Eagles answered with an 18-4 run to go in front 48-47 to start the fourth quarter. ECC regained the upper hand twice in the final eight minutes before falling behind for keeps with 2:50 left.
Jesse Bosnik scored 19 points, Josh Salter 13 and Jimmy Higgins 10 for ECC. Bosnik ended his tremendous career in third place on the District 9 all-time boys list with 2,085 points, one more than former Cameron County standout Brandon Housler.
In the first round, the Crusaders pulled away from Northern Cambria (22-6) in the second half for a 65-49 win as Bosnik netted 19 points, Salter 12 and Higgins and Logan Haberberger 10 each.
District 9 boys teams that fell in the first round were champ Bradford (13-12) by 40-38 to District 7 third seed Ambridge (20-8) in Class AAA, champ Kane (16-11) by 77-53 to District 7 fifth seed Monessen (20-6) and runner-up Smethport (21-6) by 83-35 to District 7 champ Aliquippa (27-2) in Class AA and third place Coudersport (24-3) by 64-42 to District 10 champ Kennedy Catholic (20-5) in Class A.
Bradford lost when Ambridge\’s Slade Unis drove the length of the floor for a lay-up with one second left after Tom Morris had tied the game with three free throws with 8.2 seconds remaining. Morris and Ben Lanich combined for all but three of the Owls points. Morris had 18, including five three-pointers, while Lanich had 17 to go with eight rebounds.
After trailing 22-4 late in the first quarter, Kane rallied to close the tap to 39-34 early in the third period before Monesson took control. John Bizzak had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the losing Wolves, who had five underclassmen starting.
Smethport had the misfortune of running into the state\’s premier Class AA team in Aliquippa, which boasts three potential Division I players. The Quips flashed their brilliance with at least a dozen slam dunks against the Hubbers, who were making what was believed to be their first appearance in the state tourney.
Kennedy Catholic, which has won the District 10 title 10 years in a row, never let Coudersport get started and cruised after outscoring the Falcons 16-2 in the first quarter.
Champions Karns City (22-6) in Class AA and Union (27-4) in Class A were the lone District 9 girls teams to advance past the first round.
Karns City, which beat Curwensville in the 9-AA championship game, opened with a 39-26 win over District 7 fifth place seed Shady Side Academy (19-9) before losing 48-37 to District 10 third place Girard (23-6.). Haley Callihan and Allyson Kepple scored 14 points apiece against SSA, and Callihan came back with 14 points and eight rebounds against Girard, which starts three juniors and two sophomores. Super soph Raegan Moore, a state track qualifier in the hurdles last spring, scored 27 points for Girard.
Union trailed Ferndale (20-9) by seven points in the third period before coming to life to post a state playoff win for the fifth year in a row, 49-38. Tiffany Corle led the Golden Damsels with 15 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block.
On Wednesday, Union and District 7 third seed Mt. Alvernia (21-7) were knotted at 57 with 3:49 to play, but the Lions then outscored the Golden Damsels 20-7 for a 77-64 victory. Corle had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Golden Damsels to finish her career with 1,108 points. Union had to play the final 14 minutes without center Denyelle Painter because of an ankle injury.
District 9 teams losing in the first round were champ Bradford (19-7) by 67-32 to District 7 third place Moon (22-6) in Class AAA, runner-up Curwensville (21-8) by 69-38 to District 7 champion Greensburg Central Catholic (22-6) in Class AA and runner-up Coudersport (25-3) by 64-27 to District 10 runner-up Eisenhower (21-6), third place Elk County Catholic (22-7) by 60-29 to District 10 champ Farrell (24-3) and fourth place Clarion-Limestone (20-9) by 69-35 to District 7 champ and North Catholic (25-4) in Class A. North Catholic is ranked No. 1 and Farrell No. 8 in the state.
Whitney Cline scored 19 points for Bradford, which was outscored in every quarter and trailed 32-18 at the half.