I covered five games over the weekend at Tippin Gymnasium at Clarion University –all three on Friday evening, and the two boys district championship games on Saturday.
And everyone in attendance at Clarion got a little taste of what every sports fan loves –success from the underdog.
One of the most unexpected things that I saw over the weekend came on Saturday afternoon as No. 4 Johnsonburg defeated second-seeded Elk County Catholic.
Johnsonburg was up by only a few points in the fourth quarter when a member of the District 9 committee came to where I was standing. He talked to me about how good of a game it was and how ECC usually comes back to win those type of games.
But then he said, “That’s why they play the games.”
Of course, the comeback never happened for the Crusaders and Johnsonburg won, 36-30.
They will represent District 9 as the No. 1 seed in the PIAA Class A Tournament, where they will play Eden Christian, the sixth place team out of the WPIAL on Friday.
Johnsonburg needed just one win in district play to make it to the state tournament and I thought they would definitely beat Otto-Eldred in the quarterfinals, but I didn’t expect them to beat top-seeded North Clarion in the semifinals or Elk County Catholic. The Crusaders beat them twice in the regular season, once by 17 points, albeit that was at the beginning of the season.
Johnsonburg definitely isn’t the perfect team. They are 19-7 heading into Friday’s game. They don’t have any real superstars on the team. But head coach Bill Shuey does have the team playing together, and playing well at the right time.
Then there’s the Brockway boys team, who are also heading to the state tournament. They entered the Class AA tournament as the No. 6 seed in the six-team tournament, and still made the state tournament as the third place team.
They defeated No. 3 Keystone before nearly pulling off a major upset against Coudersport. They completed their run on Friday evening at Tippin with a 60-53 win over Clarion High.
And now the Rovers will turn their sights to an even taller task against District 6 champion Bishop Guilfoyle on Saturday evening. If they play like they had been the last couple weeks with their season on the line, don’t count the Rovers out.
There were also some low points for the area as the Ridgway boys were handed their first loss of the season against Coudersport in the Class 2A finals. And the way the Brookville boys had their season end on Friday evening with a Karns City buzzer beater with 0.4 seconds left was as crushing of a way to lose as I’ve ever seen.
But congratulations to the Brookville girls and Johnsonburg boys on being district champions from the area. Also good luck to all area teams in state playoffs
March Madness is here. Enjoy it.
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Andy Stine is a sports writer for the Courier Express and Tri-County Sunday newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.