CLARION — The Brockway boys basketball team jumped out to a quick 10-2 lead Thursday night against Keystone, and that strong start proved to be the difference in the Rovers’ 46-42 victory in a District 9 Class AA quarterfinal game at Clarion University.
Brockway’s fast start was jump-started by it defense, as eight of the Rovers’ first 10 points came directly off four steals — three by Carter Adams and one by Noah Vokes — in the opening three minutes.
That duo also combined to score those first 10 points, with Vokes dropping in six and Adams.
However, the Rovers’ impressive start came to a screeching halt at the 3:35 mark of the opening quarter when Vokes and Panther Luke Hurrelbrink collided near midcourt.
The impact caused a gash above Vokes’ eye and the game was halted for some time as Vokes was worked on before leaving for the locker room. Vokes would return late in the quarter and play the remainder of the game. He finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.
The stoppage seemed to take away the momentum Brockway (12-12) had built while allowing Keystone (16-7) to calm down from its rough start. When play resumed, the Panthers put together a 7-0 run to end the quarter to get within a point at 10-9.
“To start the game, I thought our defensive intensity was excellent and we got some stops and run-outs and finished,” said Rovers coach Rick Clark. “Got off to that great start, then a tough break with Noah (Vokes). That kind of allowed them to catch their breath and took Noah out of the game a little bit. And, they were able to attack and climb back into the game.”
However, Keystone would never take the lead in the game. After a low-scoring second quarter that saw Brockway take a 17-14 lead into the break, the Panthers tied things at 17-17 to open the second half. But, an 8-0 spurt by Brockway quickly gave the Rovers some breathing room at 25-17 midway through the third.
Brockway pushed the lead to as many as 12 (35-23) early in the fourth on two baskets by Zane Puhala, but Keystone had one last push left. The Panthers got within three points (45-42) on a trey by Corey Rapp with 17 seconds remaining, but the Rovers sealed the win by hitting enough free throws down the stretch.
Brockway hit 5 of 8 at the line (3 of 5 by Zane Puhala) in final two minutes. Puhala enjoyed a huge fourth quarter, scoring nine of his team-high 13 points in the final eight minutes. Carter Adams scored 12 points to join Puhala and Vokes in double figures.
“Once things settled down (after 1st quarter), I thought our defense was pretty good again and was overall for the most part,” said Clark. “And, we found a way to finish the game. We got a couple breakouts to build the lead (again) and hit enough free throws late when we needed too.”
Isaak Jones and Dalton Jones each scored 13 to lead the Panthers.
Brockway, which advances to play Coudersport in next week’s semifinals, beat Keystone in the quarterfinal round for the second straight year. The Rovers won 46-28 a year ago. Coudy blasted Curwensville, 71-46, Thursday night.